|4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 PM MST6:00 PM EST3:00 UAE (+1)00:0019:00 ET5:00 PM CTNaN:� , May 19, 2023
Entertainment and Sports Arena, Washington, District of Columbia Attendance: 4,200
Mystics open season against loaded Liberty lineup
The addition of two former MVPs and one of the WNBA's all-time great point guards has the New York Liberty filled with lofty expectations.
Meanwhile, the Washington Mystics hope a healthy Elena Delle Donne improves their title chances.
Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot make their debuts for the visiting Liberty on Friday night against Delle Donne and the Mystics.
New York is an original WNBA franchise, but doesn't have a title, and last played for one in 2002. However, after first-round playoff exits each of the last two years, the Liberty made a massive offseason splash.
A two-time WNBA champion and 2018 MVP, Stewart signed with New York after averaging 20.3 points and 8.6 rebounds in six seasons with Seattle. Vandersloot, a four-time All-Star, 2021 champion with Chicago and the league's all-time leader in assists average (6.6) followed. New York also traded for Jones, the 2021 MVP who averaged 13.6 points and 8.3 rebounds, while twice averaging a double-double, during six seasons with Connecticut.
Not to mention, the Liberty already had star Sabrina Ionescu, the All-Star who averaged 15.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists in her first three seasons.
"Winning a championship, that's the ultimate goal," Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said.
"(But) we don't win championships in the preseason. ... So, win the day. We have to come to work and get better."
Washington won an WNBA title in 2019, but hasn't won a playoff game since. The Mystics were 22-14 in 2022, including 18-7 with two-time MVP Delle Donne in the lineup.
Back issues have limited her to just 30 regular-season and playoff contests since 2019. However, she hopes to play every game this year.
"Knock on every piece of wood I can, but, no, we're not going in with any restrictions (on Delle Donne)," said Eric Thibault, who takes over head coaching duties from his father, Mike.
Veterans Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins will also be counted on to produce for a Washington squad that hopes to push the pace after averaging 80.2 points last season. The Mystics allowed a league-low 75.9 points in '22.
--Field Level Media
Updated May 18, 2023