When: Friday, May 21 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Entertainment and Sports Arena, Washington, D.C.
How to watch: NBC Sports Washington
Mystics: Elena Delle Donne (Back, Out); Alysha Clark (Foot, Out)
Liberty: Leaonna Odom (Achilles, Questionable); Jocelyn Willoughby (Achilles, Out)
The Washington Mystics (0-2) play one more game at Entertainment and Sports Arena before going on a three-game road trip, hosting the New York Liberty (3–0) on Friday. It has been back-to-back disappointing outings for the 2019 champions, losing in the season opener to the Chicago Sky (70–56) and falling apart down the stretch on Tuesday against the Phoenix Mercury (90–71).
Through the first two matches of the season, Tina Charles has, unsurprisingly, established herself as the team’s go-to scoring option, with Elena Delle Donne recovering from offseason back surgery. Charles has averaged 18 points and nine rebounds through two games and has been tasked with guarding Candace Parker and Brittney Griner in the paint. Against Chicago, Charles was the only player to score in double figures, but starting point guard Natasha Cloud had a strong night Tuesday, putting up 18 points.
After winning just two games in 2020, the Liberty surpassed last season’s win total just three games into the season. Sabrina Ionescu, who played in only three games last year due to an ankle injury, has looked electric. The former Oregon Duck hit a three with 0.4 seconds remaining in New York’s opening contest against the Indiana Fever to give her side the win. Four days later, Ionescu became the youngest, and fastest, player in WNBA history to record a triple-double, logging 26 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. The Liberty has also benefited from Betnijah Laney’s 70 points through three games. The 2020 Most Improved Player looks like one of the signings of the offseason.
The Mystics were always going to be a team that would settle into the season, with several key contributors recovering from injuries and some players returning from overseas commitments. Friday’s match will pit a veteran-laden team against one of the youngest squads in the league.