The status of Washington Mystics star Elena Delle Donne remains a mystery heading into Tuesday’s Eastern Conference showdown with the Connecticut Sun. Will she play?
That uncertainty has caused the game’s spread to change significantly over the last several hours. After opening as an 8.5-point favorite, Connecticut is now down to -4.5 (-110), including -205 on the moneyline. Conversely, Washington’s moneyline odds have grown from +265 to +170. The projected total is 159.5 (-110), up from 156.5.
Read on as we break down both teams in our Sun vs Mystics betting preview.
🏀 Connecticut Sun at Washington Mystics 🏀
Location: Entertainment and Sports Arena; Washington, D.C.
Streaming: NBA TV
Delle Donne’s Health an Ongoing Concern
Two-time MVP and seven-time All-Star Elena Delle Donne made her long-awaited return from an ankle injury, only to hurt herself again in Friday’s 83-79 defeat of the Indiana Fever. This time it was her hip that flared up, and Delle Donne wound up missing Sunday’s 97-84 loss to the Dallas Wings because of it.
Afterward, Mystics head coach Eric Thibault said the issue arose while Delle Donne was rehabbing her ankle but that she felt comfortable to come back. She is considered questionable to play Tuesday against the Connecticut Sun. Be sure to monitor her status when assessing our Sun vs Mystics betting preview.
Delle Donne has played 16 games (15 starts) this season, averaging a team-high 17.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per WNBA stats. Between the ankle and hip injuries, she’s played only twice since June. The Mystics have struggled mightily in her absence, losing seven of their last 10 games to fall to 15-17. Despite that, they’re still holding a playoff spot, tied with the Minnesota Lynx for sixth place. But their WNBA title odds have plummeted from +1400 to +5500.
Guard Ariel Atkins (ankle) and center Shakira Austin (hip) also returned last week following injury-related absences. Since winning her second MVP in 2019, Delle Donne, who will turn 34 on Sept. 5, missed the entire 2020 season and all but three games in 2021. She then appeared in 25 games last season, averaging a modest 27.8 minutes.
Sun Returning to Playoffs
The Connecticut Sun are headed back to the playoffs in head coach Stephanie White’s first season, having clinched a spot as a result of Washington’s loss to Dallas on Sunday. The Sun, who went on to beat the Chicago Sky 79-73, are in third place at 22-10. Many WNBA rankings have them as the biggest threat to the league’s two “Super Teams,” the Las Vegas Aces and New York Liberty.
Connecticut has gotten to this point largely because of its defense, which is widely considered the best in the WNBA. As it is, the Sun are allowing the fewest points on average (79.1).
Four-time All-Star forward Alyssa Thomas has had a big hand in that success. The 6-foot-2 Thomas is averaging a WNBA-best 10.0 rebounds (7.8 defensive) and is tied for third in blocks (1.8). Prior to this season, Thomas had been named to the WNBA’s All-Defensive Team in 2020 and the All-Defensive Second Team on three other occasions (2017, 2019, 2022).
Thomas’ presence helped overcome the loss of center Brionna Jones, who tore her Achilles in June. Jones, a two-time All-Star and reigning WNBA Sixth Player of the Year, was averaging 15.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals across 31.7 minutes per game.
Handicapping the Game
If healthy, Washington can beat practically anyone in the WNBA. Therein lies the problem. Unfortunately, these days, it seems as if Washington is never healthy. After missing an extended stretch, Delle Donne, the Mystics’ most formidable player, is now absent again. Sure, she could play, but at what percent?
At this point, because of the ongoing injury issues up and down Washington’s roster, it’s hard to put much stock in the Mystics. There’s little to no consistency in their lineup, making them a tough team to wager on. Because of that, Connecticut should be a healthy favorite, even on the road. Plus, Connecticut is already 3-0 against Washington this season. That’s important to remember when assessing the odds in our Sun vs Mystics betting preview.
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