The 2020 WNBA Playoffs presented by AT&T tip off on Tuesday with a doubleheader of single-elimination games on ESPN2. The action begins with the Chicago Sky vs. Connecticut Sun at 7:00 ET, followed by the Phoenix Mercury vs. the defending champion Washington Mystics at 9:00 ET. Here are six key stats to know about each matchup.
(7) Connecticut Sun vs. (6) Chicago Sky – 7PM ET (ESPN2)
This matchup features a Sky team ranked 4th in the WNBA in offensive efficiency (105.7 points per 100 possessions) against a Sun team ranked 4th in the league in defensive efficiency (99.5 points allowed per 100 possessions). The Sky led the WNBA in effective field goal percentage (54.7%, best in league history), while the Sun ranked 5th in lowest EFG% allowed (49.5%).
Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas is one of only two players – along with Seattle’s Breanna Stewart – to finish the 2020 season ranked in the top 15 in points (13th, 15.5 PPG), rebounds (2nd, 9.0 RPG), assists (6th, 4.8 APG) and steals (1st, 2.0 SPG). Thomas ranks ahead of Stewart in all categories except points.
Jasmine Thomas averaged 18.5 points, 5.0 assists, 3.0 steals and shot 7-13 (53.8%) from three in two meetings with Chicago this season. Thomas’ scoring average and 3-point percentage against the Sky were the highest marks she posted against any opponent this season.
The Sky were 28.0 points per 100 possessions better with Courtney Vandersloot on the court (plus-9.3 net rating in 693 minutes) than when she was off the court (minus-18.7 net rating in 187 minutes). That is the highest on-court/off-court differential of any player that logged at least 350 minutes this season. Connecticut’s DeWanna Bonner ranks 5th on that list at 18.8 (plus-4.8 on in 732 minutes; minus-14.0 off in 153 minutes).
Connecticut went 8-5 since Briann January joined the team on Aug. 12 after going 2-7 prior to her Sun debut. Connecticut’s five-player lineup of DeWanna Bonner, Briann January, Jasmine Thomas, Alyssa Thomas and Brionna Jones posted the second-highest net rating (plus 28.1) of any lineup that played at least 100 minutes together this season. Their 82.0 defensive rating and 2.19 assist/turnover ratio were the best of any team in the league.
Connecticut’s Brionna Jones led the WNBA in field goal percentage at 60.5% on the season with 67 of her 98 made field goals coming in the restricted area. In two games against Chicago, Jones shot 10-18 (55.6%) from the field with 9 of those baskets coming in the restricted area. Chicago’s Cheyenne Parker finished 5th in the league in FG% (55.4%) and shot even better in two games against Connecticut (58.8%).
(8) Washington Mystics vs. (5) Phoenix Mercury – 9PM ET (ESPN2)
Diana Taurasi finished 5th in the WNBA in scoring (18.7 PPG) in her 16th WNBA season. Taurasi holds the record for most scoring titles (5) and has finished ranked in the top five in scoring 11 times during her career. Of the 14 seasons in which she qualified as a season leader (she did not play in enough games in 2012 and 2019 due to injury), Taurasi has never finished lower than 8th in the league in scoring and ranked #1 five times.
Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith are the only two players in the WNBA to finish the season ranked in the top 10 in both scoring and assists – and they did so as teammates. Taurasi finished 5th in scoring (18.7 PPG) and 8th in assists (4.5 APG), while Diggins-Smith finished 7th in scoring (17.7 PPG) and 10th in assists (4.2 APG).
Myisha Hines-Allen is a lead candidate for Most Improved Player as she has made the most of a unique opportunity to go from seldom-used reserve (she averaged 7.8 minutes in 2019) to a full-time starter and focal point of the Mystics offense. Hines-Allen went from averaging 2.3 points in 2019 to 17.0 in 2020 – her point average this season ranks 10th in the entire league. She finished 5th in the league in rebounding (8.9 RPG) and tied Candace Parker for the most double-doubles in the league this season (10).
Since the new playoff format debuted in 2016, the Mercury are 6-1 in single-elimination games, and 6-0 with Diana Taurasi in the lineup. In those six single-elimination games, Taurasi has averaged 23.3 points, 5.0 assists and shot 50-40-90 (51.2% FG, 42.3% 3P and 91.9% FT). The Mercury have outscored their opponents by 58 points in Diana’s 189 minutes on court in those six elimination games.
The Mystics opened the season with three straight wins (with a point differential of plus-48) and closed the season with four straight wins (point differential of plus-35). In the 15 games in the middle from Aug. 1 to Sept. 6, they went just 2-13 (point differential of minus-117) and endured losing streaks of seven and five games. The Mercury’s longest losing streak of the season was three games from Aug. 16-21, including the final two games that Brittney Griner played this season.
Brianna Turner averaged 7.2 points, 9.0 rebounds (4th in WNBA) and 2.0 blocks (2nd in WNBA) during her second WNBA season. Since Aug. 20, after Brittney Griner left the team (personal reasons), Turner has increased her rebounding to 12.6 per game and her blocks to 3.5 per game – the top marks in the WNBA over that time in both categories.