The Connecticut Sun defeated the Washington Mystics 99-87 on Tuesday to tie up the WNBA Finals at one game apiece. But the biggest news of the night may have been an injury to Washington’s Elena Delle Donne, who left the game just three minutes into the first quarter.
The 2019 WNBA MVP left the court with back spasms, and will have an MRI on her back on Wednesday to determine her status for the rest of the series.
Back Spams Bench Delle Donne
With Delle Donne out of the game, Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones took over the contest, scoring 32 points on 13-for-24 shooting while also grabbing 18 rebounds in the victory. It was one of the greatest games in WNBA Finals history, as Jones became the first woman to put up a 30-15 game in the championship series.
“JJ was going crazy today,” Sun guard Courtney Williams said, via the Hartford Courant. “I told her, I felt like I could pull the ball from half court and she was going to look out for me and get the rebound. That’s huge when she has that mindset to go get every ball, every rebound.”
Williams scored 22 points and added six assists, while Alyssa Thomas scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to complete the Sun attack. Rebounding proved to be a decisive advantage for Connecticut, as they outrebounded Washington 41-27 while scoring 28 second-chance points on the night.
The loss of the 6-foot-5 Delle Donne certainly played a role in that outcome. According to Mystics coach Mike Thibault, Delle Donne suffered the injury while attempting her first shot of the night.
“Didn’t look good,” Thibault told reporters after the game. “I didn’t look forward to having four days between games. But right now that looks like a benefit that we didn’t have at the start of the series.”
Connecticut Dominates Offensive Glass
With Delle Donne going scoreless on the night, Emma Meesseman became the focal point of the Mystics offense, scoring 23 points in 36 minutes of play. But The loss of Delle Donne may have shown itself more on defense and on the glass than in Washington’s offensive sets.
“If you watch the tape, Elena was almost textbook in her block-outs on Jonquel,” Thibault said. “Tonight, I thought we were trying to rebound with our head under the rim, and you don’t get very many defensive rebounds that way.”
At the moment, there’s no line on Sunday’s Game 3, as bookmakers are likely waiting to see Delle Donne’s status. But while the Mystics are still the favorites to win the WNBA Finals at FanDuel Sportsbook, their odds have lengthened to just -175, with the Sun fetching only +120 odds – a far cry from the +750 bettors could get after Game 1.
Those numbers are likely to shift one way or the other depending on what comes out about Delle Donne’s injury. But whether or not she is in the lineup, Connecticut coach Curt Miller wants his team to remember that the Mystics are dangerous, something he doesn’t think will be a problem.
“We’ve had situations before like this when great players have gone down in games, and there’s a real tendency to relax,” Miller told reporters. “But this franchise has played stretches without her before. So we knew that we weren’t going to get an easy break just because she was out.”