Why Connecticut Sun-Washington Mystics is the weekend’s must-see WNBA game and the Minnesota Lynx might be a lost cause

by Msnbctv news staff

The WNBA could be one-third of the way in which by means of its 36-game regular-season schedule, with separation among the many contenders, pretenders and everybody else beginning to take form. However even the league’s prime echelon — groups with .600 profitable percentages or higher — have loads to show this weekend and to tinker with because the All-Star break approaches.

On Wednesday, the Connecticut Solar (11-4) obtained their fifth win in six video games and have rebounded properly since shedding place to begin guard Jasmine Thomas to a season-ending ACL tear 5 video games into the season. However common supervisor and coach Curt Miller wasn’t achieved toying along with his roster simply but: In an effort to spice up his group’s perimeter protection, which took a success with Thomas’ harm but in addition with the lack of Briann January in free company, Miller waived 32-year-old rookie Yvonne Anderson and signed Jazmine Jones, a third-year participant, earlier this week.

Even with Thomas sidelined, the transfer indicated that Miller felt comfy sufficient along with his depth at level guard, the place Alyssa Thomas is more and more taking the reins, to shore up his roster elsewhere. Miller stated final week that whereas Connecticut’s jumbo lineup — that includes 6-foot-2 point-forward Alyssa Thomas on the level and 5-8 Courtney Williams, 6-4 DeWanna Bonner, 6-6 Jonquel Jones and 6-3 Brionna Jones surrounding her — is a piece in progress, he is excited to see the place it may well go. He was notably happy with that lineup’s protection and rebounding numbers, and stated that with extra apply time that group can enhance its spacing and timing out and in of actions.

The jumbo lineup sports activities a web score of 29.2. Miller’s beginning 5, the place level guard Natisha Hiedeman replaces Jones, has a web score of 8.6.

The Solar have a tricky stretch of competitors main into the All-Star break that may check the feasibility of their jumbo lineup and energy of their backcourt protection. They face the Seattle Storm on Friday, the Washington Mystics on Sunday, the upstart New York Liberty on June 22 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2), and the Chicago Sky the week after.

Sunday’s schedule options 5 video games, however Connecticut-Washington is the headliner. The Mystics are involved about peaking on the proper time with Elena Delle Donne (again) and Alysha Clark (Lisfranc harm) getting back from illnesses, however they might use a résumé-boosting, confidence-instilling win. Washington is 5-5 in its previous 10 video games after a 5-1 begin, however with only one true high quality win in that stretch: over Chicago (10-6), which is 2-1 in opposition to the Mystics this season.

Delle Donne has been out and in of the lineup as she manages her recurring again points; she is anticipated to overlook Thursday’s recreation in opposition to the Liberty however play Sunday in opposition to the Solar. The Mystics improved to 7-3 with the two-time MVP within the lineup versus 3-3 with out her following Tuesday’s bounce-back win over the Phoenix Mercury. Amid that fluctuation within the frontcourt, rookie Shakira Austin has continued to make her mark, recording her second profession double-double Tuesday going up in opposition to one of many all-time greats in Tina Charles, and Clark has began to search out her groove offensively.

Connecticut received Recreation 1 between these groups 79-71 on Might 28, a contest each Delle Donne and Miller (COVID-19 protocols) missed.

Elsewhere, Chicago (9-4) has discovered extra of a stride with seven wins over the previous 10 recreation, and can look to maintain enterprise in opposition to the Atlanta Dream (7-7) on Friday and to avenge its 83-76 Might 28 loss to the Las Vegas Aces on Tuesday.



McBride is on fireplace with candy triple

What else is at stake: Are the Lynx a misplaced trigger?

Minnesota Lynx coach/common supervisor Cheryl Reeve was inspired Tuesday after her squad dropped an in depth contest to the Storm, a marked shift after Reeve did not seem for postgame media following Sunday’s loss to the Indiana Fever, as a substitute sending affiliate head coach Katie Smith in her place. After demanding extra effort from her gamers for the reason that preseason, Reeve appeared lastly pleased with what she noticed, though Minnesota did not get the tip end result it was in search of.

“[There was] perhaps an understanding right now of how exhausting we’ve to play, as a result of I believed we did,” Reeve stated after Tuesday’s 81-79 loss, the group’s fourth consecutive. “We’re dragging it out of them however they lastly obtained a way of what it appears like to really be tough to play in opposition to.”

Nonetheless, the Lynx — who’ve been arguably probably the most injury-riddled group this summer season and have began 11 completely different lineups thus far in 2022 — fell to 3-12 on the season, the worst 15-game begin in franchise historical past. And with Sylvia Fowles out indefinitely due to a cartilage harm in her proper knee, plus Napheesa Collier’s standing is unclear as she’s out on maternity go away, time is working out for the Lynx to salvage their season.

Tuesday might need been an indication of life for the Lynx, and a few of their late additions — equivalent to Moriah Jefferson and Nikolina Milic — have been good finds. Nevertheless it’s exhausting to see a dramatic turnaround occurring with out Fowles particularly, as Minnesota remains to be trying to find its first win with out its future Corridor of Famer, who could be the very best middle to ever play within the WNBA. And if Collier, who gave delivery three weeks in the past, desires to take the court docket this summer season — bear in mind, the common season ends Aug. 14 — would she even be returning to a group in playoff rivalry?

Wild issues have occurred within the WNBA. The Liberty made the playoffs final season with a .375 profitable share, the worst in league historical past. Final season Minnesota earned the No. 3 seed within the playoffs following an 0-4 begin, although it was 12-7 by the Olympic break.

And whereas taking part in as much as Reeve’s customary toughness-wise would assist issues, it is tough to think about that alone fixing the entire Lynx’s issues when they’re within the backside quartile of WNBA groups in offensive and defensive score, assist-to-turnover ratio and numerous taking pictures metrics — and that they might pull every little thing collectively sufficient to surpass a number of different groups that, so far, have regarded extra like playoff caliber squads.

Issues do not get a lot simpler in Minnesota’s closing eight video games main as much as the All-Star break; the Lynx play Chicago and Vegas a mixed 5 occasions in that stretch, beginning with the Aces on Sunday.



Aari McDonald (Atlanta Dream) with a Steal vs. Connecticut Solar, 06/15/2022

What else is at stake? Making sense of Atlanta

The Dream’s sizzling begin has cooled as of late, as they’ve misplaced six of their previous 9 video games and have fallen to .500 with Wednesday’s loss to the Solar. Energy of schedule has one thing to do with their leveling out: Atlanta has but to file a win this season over a group that is at the moment above .500, with the defending WNBA champs awaiting Friday.

Even when the Dream aren’t fairly pretty much as good as early pleasure wished to consider, assuming they do not undergo a late collapse, Atlanta is markedly higher than it regarded final season, able to taking part in gritty, robust protection that can provide most any group complications. The group additionally has discovered a budding star in No. 1 total choose Rhyne Howard, for whom it traded up. That is nonetheless a step in the correct route for a franchise that went top-down scorched earth over the previous two seasons, and the Dream have the salary-cap flexibility within the offseason to proceed their rebuild as they see match.

Fantasy ladies’s basketball picks

Who to start out: Jackie Younger is again for the Aces after lacking a pair of video games due to an ankle harm. Candace Parker will look to information the Sky to a robust weekend with matchups in opposition to the Dream (Friday) and Fever (Sunday) forward of Tuesday’s recreation vs. Vegas.

Shakira Austin has been a revelation for the Mystics as they’ve navigated Elena Delle Donne’s periodic absences from the lineup.

Who to bench: Dallas’ Satou Sabally is coping with a knee harm and missed Wednesday’s recreation in opposition to the Aces. Erica Wheeler (left foot sprain) and Kia Vaughn (well being and security protocols) have been out for the Dream.

Seattle’s Mercedes Russell is out due to a non-basketball-related harm and is being reassessed by group docs.

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