When the 2019 WNBA Finals between the No. 1 Washington Mystics and No. 2 Connecticut Sun tip off on Sunday, the battle between starting shooting guards Natasha Cloud and Courtney Williams promises to be one of the hottest matchups of the series. Both are skilled from three-point range, but Williams has carved out a niche with butter-smooth mid-range jumper. Both can drive to the rim for layups, but the lankier Williams has the speed to outrun everyone to the hoop and the slight frame to slither through small spaces. But Cloud, an inch taller and almost 25 pounds heavier, has the size advantage to thwart Williams’ efforts.
Will Williams’ speed and mid-range abilities shine bright for Connecticut? Will Cloud’s size shade Williams’ effort? Could Cloud’s size advantage give her room to get hot from deep, and space the floor for Mystics’ frontcourt stars to operate in the paint? Or will Williams set up All-Star Three-Point Contest winner Shekinna Stricklen and others to thrive from beyond the arc so that she can own the driving lanes?
Shooting guards of the 2019 WNBA Finals
Cloud and Williams faced off in three head-to-head regular-season matchups. The Sun, with the league-best 15-2 home record, won twice at Uncasville’s Mohegan Sun and the Mystics (14-3 at home) won once at D.C.’s Entertainment and Sports Arena.
Here’s how the starting sharpshooters of the Finals performed against each other:
Cloud’s higher average for assists is due to the shooting talent on her team, from MVP Elena Delle Donne to Emma Meesseman and Kristi Toliver. With Williams dishing fewer shots and scoring more herself, it is understandable that her average points would be a little higher than Cloud’s. But Williams shooting 66.7% from three-point range should be of concern for the Mystics, especially since she has come alive for career-best shooting performances in the postseason. And if Williams gets to the charity stripe, she has a far higher chance of banking her free-throw shots than Cloud — who made just 62.5% of her free throws against the Sun this season (to Williams’ 85.7%).
Although the Sun may have disrupted Cloud some in the regular season, their concern should be her assists — her playmaking ability, which loops into the scoring fray a Mystics squad ultra-deep with shooting talent. In some ways, Cloud’s assists could be more problematic for the Sun than Williams’ scoring might be for the Mystics.
But what makes this matchup a battle for the series is that Cloud (27.3%) and Williams (no attempts) both struggle from the three-point line against each other on the road.
At home is a different story, with Cloud shooting 60% from deep in the Mystics’ sole home game in the regular-season series and Williams shooting 66.7% in the Sun’s two home games in the regular-season series. So, even if Williams struggles from the perimeter in D.C. — and even if the Sun drop Games 1 and 2 because of it — a return to Uncasville should flip the script for her individual performance and for her team’s ability to force a five-game series.
Game 1 of the 2019 WNBA Finals tips off on Sunday, Sept. 29, at 3 p.m. ET (ESPN).