WNBA Finals 2019 predictions – Will Washington Mystics or Connecticut Sun win?

The top two teams in the league will meet in the WNBA Finals, which open Sunday (ESPN, 3 p.m. ET). Elena Delle Donne, the 2019 MVP, and the top-seeded Washington Mystics have home-court advantage in the best-of-five series, and will host Games 1, 2 and, if necessary, Game 5.

The No. 2 seed Connecticut Sun won the regular-season series 2-1, but the teams haven’t played each other since June 29. This is the first WNBA Finals since 2011 in which both teams are seeking their first title.

So which team is the favorite? And what — or who — is the X factor in the championship series? (Editor’s note: Rebecca Lobo and LaChina Robinson opted not to predict a winner.)

Sean Hurd, The Undefeated

When healthy, the starting lineups for Washington and Connecticut yield high-powered scoring presences, phenomenal backcourt leadership and players who can light up the court from beyond the arc. Each core group also dominates in different ways: the Mystics move the ball well and execute and efficient offense, and the Sun’s suffocating defense can disrupt an opposing team’s offensive rhythm.

So the difference will come from the sixth player on down. What will Washington receive from its bench, some combination of Aerial Powers, Kristi Toliver, Tianna Hawkins and Emma Meesseman, each of whom have shined during key parts of the Mystics’ run? What will Connecticut draw from players like Brionna Jones and Bria Holmes, who have given the Sun big lifts during their own respective run. If Layshia Clarendon returns to the lineup and is able to contribute, that could become crucial for the Sun. The edge for this series could come from the scorer’s table.

Pick: Mystics in four.

Rebecca Lobo, ESPN analyst

Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas and Washington’s Emma Meesseman will be the keys to this series.

Up to this point, Thomas has been the toughest “dog” in the fight. She has been the most physical player in the playoffs and imposed her will every minute she has been on the floor. Which Mystics player will guard her and can they slow her down?

Meesseman’s fourth quarter in Game 4 against Las Vegas is the biggest reason the series didn’t go to a Game 5. But she has been efficient all season for Washington, and has finally become comfortable shooting the ball at a higher volume. When Meesseman plays alongside Elena Delle Donne in the smaller lineup, the offensive spacing becomes a nightmare for the defense.

Pick: This will be a more competitive Finals than 2019. As long as all the key players stay healthy, we’re in for close games and a long series.

D’Arcy Maine, espnW.com

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