The Washington Mystics were likely feeling confident heading into Tuesday’s WNBA Finals Game 2, as they looked all-around fantastic in their Game 1 win against the Connecticut Sun. But just a few minutes into tonight’s match-up, the Mystics would experience a disturbing flashback to last year’s Finals, when they got swept by the Storm in major part because star player Elena Delle Donne wasn’t at 100 percent. The WNBA MVP Delle Donne led her team with 22 points and 10 boards on Sunday, but just three minutes into Game 2, she left with back spasms and didn’t return. The Sun took advantage of their opponent’s bad luck, and they took Game 2 99-87 to even the series.
With Delle Donne out, it was the Sun’s Jonquel Jones who took over the court and helped her team hold a steady advantage through almost the entire 40 minutes. While the Sun’s 6-foot-6 top scorer played a mostly anonymous Game 1, she showed off every bit of her fascinatingly flexible skill set in Game 2. Jones finished with a monumental 32 points, including a 3-for-7 performance from beyond the arc, a Finals record 18 rebounds (nine offensive), and three blocks. She was absolutely outstanding, which is exactly what the Sun needed her to be.
The Mystics showed plenty of fight—most of it coming from Emma Meesseman off the bench in Delle Donne’s place—and they took advantage of some Jones foul trouble to make a push that tied the game at 76-all early in the fourth. But their predicament is very simple: With Delle Donne, they’re Finals favorites, but without Delle Donne, they’re nothing special. Luckily for them, Game 3 isn’t until Sunday, so she’ll have plenty of time to get healthy.