Who has the advantage heading in Seattle vs. Connecticut part 3.
The first ever Commissioner’s Cup championship game is set to take place on Thursday now that the Olympic festivities have ended and players have returned to their WNBA teams. The West-leading Seattle Storm and East-leading Connecticut Sun have earned a spot in the game due to their first half performances, and will be rewarded with a hefty pay-day win or lose.
The Storm are 2-0 against the Sun this season, with one win coming in dominant fashion 89-66. However, this was during a stretch of games that Jonquel Jones missed for Connecticut, and a better representation of how the night will go may be the 90-87 overtime contest just two weeks into the season.
A key to this game might be the location itself. The neutral site of Phoenix bodes well for Seattle, who has been consistent on any court this season, whereas the Sun are merely 6-5 on the road compared to 8-1 at home, the biggest split discrepancy in the WNBA.
Added motivation for Seattle includes the race for the one seed down the stretch against the Las Vegas Aces, as the two squads are separated by just one game. The Sun on the other hand have a comfortable lead over the rest of the Eastern Conference.
Coming off of a gold medal that Storm players Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd, and Sue Bird helped to earn, I think Seattle will have less rust and will ride an early lead to capture the midseason title.
Embarrassment of riches in Washington
We have already mentioned a few of the biggest favorites for the WNBA MVP award in this article, but what happens to another leading candidate when her role changes drastically? Tina Charles has been the driving engine of the Washington Mystics, performing at an incredibly high level despite being arguably past her prime. Her 26.3 points per game would be the most in league history if she could sustain that output in the second half.
Help is on the way, however, as former MVP Elena Delle Donne has reportedly been practicing again with the team, an encouraging sign that fans will see her take the court at some point this year. Breakout bubble star Myisha Hines-Allen should also be returning from injury soon, and there is still hope that Emma Meesseman can rejoin the team after her run with the Belgian Olympic squad.
While there may be a learning curve for playing alongside one another, adding all of these pieces certainly elevates the Mystics from an 8-10 fringe playoff team to a championship contender.
Washington will not be the only team that benefits from the elongated season break, as every team has had time to get healthy. The biggest winner is the fans, as we get to watch teams compete at their highest levels as we inch closer to the postseason.