Elena Delle Donne’s historic MVP season seemed almost predestined to end with the Delle Devil hoisting her first (and her franchise, the Washington Mystics’, first) WNBA Championship trophy over her head, smiling proudly having taken off her now iconic mask.
But, as I’ve said before, anything can happen in the WNBA Finals.
The entire women’s basketball community cringed on Tuesday as they watched Elena Delle Donne leave Game 2 of the Finals with a herniated disc in her back. As the MVP receives “extensive” treatment, it’s unclear whether Delle Donne will return this season. An update on Donne’s status is expected tomorrow from head coach Mike Thibault, per espnW’s Mechelle Voepel.
While the Mystics prepare for life without their MVP, the Connecticut Sun are studying how to replicate their 99-87 win over the Delle Donne-less Mystics; and how to replicate Jonquel Jones’ record-breaking night.
With the MVP down and out of the game, Jones seized the opportunity to absolutely bully the Mystics in the paint, and on the glass. The Sun outrebounded the Mystics an astonishing 41 to 27, a lead obtained by 18 rebounds from Jones herself. Jones also pulled down a WNBA Finals record of 9 offensive rebounds, grabbing rebounds away from the smaller Mystics defense and creating second chances on offense for her team. At 6’6, Jones towers over Mystics’ small ball center LaToya Sanders at 6’2, but even with that in mind–Jones’ ability to outhustle the entire Mystics’ defense comes from effort, strength, and a high IQ for rebounding.
In just two seasons, Jonquel Jones has gone from Sixth Woman of the Year, to star, and now, with this iconic performance in the Finals, to superstar. Even if Delle Donne had been healthy, there’s little doubt in my mind that Jonquel Jones still would have had the best individual game of any player on the floor. Jones added 32 points and three blocks to her outstanding rebounding game. She putt on one of the most memorable performances of this postseason, if not WNBA playoffs history.
It’s too soon to count the Mystics out yet; even if Delle Donne is sidelined for the rest of the series, Mike Thibault has crafted arguably the most effective WNBA offensive ever. The Mystics have more than enough fire power behind recent breakout Emma Meesseman—who scored a team high 23 points in Tuesday’s loss—as well as the steady leadership of veteran point guard Kristi Toliver. Perhaps the two of them can find a way to outfox the Sun’s perimeter defense, which held the Mytics to 7-22 from three without Delle Donne.
Even if they can rerig their offense, if the Mystics’ can’t be more physical on defense, as Meesseman said they have to be per MSN’s Gene Wang, it’s hard to see a situation where Jonquel Jones doesn’t destroy them on the inside once more. With the Finals now tied at 1-1, Jones stands ready to steal what once seemed destined to be in Elena Delle Donne’s hands: a WNBA Championship Trophy. A win will be both Jones’s first and the first for the Connecticut Sun.
Notable Stat Lines — Game 2, Connecticut Sun @ Washington Mystics
- Emma Meesseman (WAS) – 23 pts, 8 reb, 3 assists on 10-17 shooting.
- Alyssa Thomas (CON) – 21 pts, 12 reb, 6 assists on 9-15 shooting.
- Jonquel Jones (CON) – 32 pts, 18 reb, 9 offensive reb, 3 blocks, on 13-24 shooting.
Dani Bar-Lavi is a comedian, writer, and guest contributor to SportsAreFromVenus. You can find them on Twitter @dblfluidity.
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