Last season, the Seattle Storm swept the Washington Mystics en route to the franchise's third WNBA championship.
The Mystics are off to a solid start in 2019 and get their chance at some early revenge when they host the Storm on Friday night.
Washington (4-2) made the WNBA Finals for the first time in 2018 but twice lost by double-digits to Seattle in a series that lasted the minimum three games. Judging by their strong play out of the gate this season, the Mystics seem poised to return to the Finals and close the deal in 2019.
"(We're) not settling for what is," coach Mike Thibault told the Mystics' official website prior to this season. "Try to find an extra gear. Our one goal is (to) be better than we were last year. If we do that, then the goal should be to win a championship."
The Mystics' only defeats on the young campaign have come against upstart 6-1 Connecticut, most recently 83-75 on the road Tuesday. Ariel Atkins had a team-high 18 points for the Mystics, who yielded 10 3-pointers to the Sun while being held to fewer than 86 points by Connecticut for the second time this season.
Atkins (10.3 points per game) is one of six players averaging double-digits for Washington, which had its four-game winning streak end Tuesday. That loss will likely add to the incentive for this contest.
Despite being minus injured stars Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird, Seattle (4-3) is managing to keep its collective head above water. The Storm will again try to win back-to-back games for the first time this season following an 84-82 victory at Indiana on Tuesday.
Early MVP contender Natasha Howard (19.6 ppg) scored a career-high 26 and Jewell Loyd added 18 points for Seattle, which owned a double-digit advantage in the third quarter but had to rally after Indiana charged back to lead by one with 29 seconds left. Loyd sank three free throws down the stretch to help Seattle earn the victory.
Loyd has averaged 18.5 points over the last four games. She scored 23 in Seattle's 89-76 win over Washington in Game 1 of the Finals. Howard, meanwhile, had 29 on 11-of-14 shooting and 14 rebounds in the Storm's title-clinching 98-82 Game 3 victory over Washington last season.
Mystics star Elena Delle Donne averaged 16.7 points in the 2018 Finals and scored 23 in Game 3. Delle Donne said after that loss: "We don't feel like we peaked and this it for us."
Washington and Seattle will square off two more times in August.