Unbeaten Washington, Connecticut off to fast starts in WNBA

Washington and Connecticut are off to fast starts this season, using their depth and favorable schedules to sit atop the WNBA.

The Mystics are 4-0 for the first time in franchise history while the Sun opened the year with three straight wins for the first time in a decade. The schedule has helped both teams as they have combined to play six of their seven games at home.

”Those are in the bank,” Mystics coach Mike Thibault said of the 4-0 start. ”At the end of the year, they do not care when you got them, how you got them, it is just that you got them. So 4-0 gives us the start that most people would die for, so we will take it.”

Now both teams will get tested on the road.

”I’m pleased with us holding serve at home with this homestand,” Connecticut coach Curt Miller said. ”We were very open talking to the team about our slow starts over the first two years here and how important it was.”

Connecticut has 13 of its next 16 games away from home, beginning with a four-game trip beginning Friday in Chicago.

”We did what we were supposed to do is how I look at it,” he added. ”This road trip is a great start for us. Big time barometer where we’re at. We’re still a young team that has to go win on the road in a hostile environment.

Washington has an extremely busy week with three games out west against Seattle, Phoenix and Las Vegas before returning home to face the Sun on Sunday. The Mystics may be well equipped to handle the road trip with a solid bench that put up 58 points in the win over Minnesota on Sunday.

Connecticut begins its own four-game road trip in Chicago on Friday.

Buoyed by the strong starts, Connecticut moved up to second in the AP power poll Tuesday, the highest ranking for the team. Washington is one place behind, equaling its best spot in the poll. Los Angeles still leads the way.

POWER POLL: A look at this week’s WNBA poll:

1. Los Angeles (3-1): The Sparks lost their first game of the season in Connecticut, but are finally starting to get healthy with Candace Parker returning from a back issue in a win over Phoenix.

2. Connecticut (3-0): Became first team in WNBA history to put up over 100 points in the first two games of the season.

3. Washington (4-0): The Mystics are playing well without Emma Meesseman, who is taking the year off to train with the Belgium national team for the world championship.

4. Minnesota (2-2): The Lynx had never been below second in the three-year history of the power poll. They continue a three-game road trip in Atlanta.

5. Seattle (3-1): Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd are going to be one of the top tandems in the league for a very long time.

6. Phoenix (2-2): Depth has been the Mercury’s problem so far this season. The bench averaged just eight points in the two losses this week.

7. Dallas (2-2): Liz Cambage and Skylar Diggins-Smith are carrying the load right now. The Wings can be really good with more consistent play from the rest of the team.

8. Chicago (2-2): The Sky followed up their first 2-0 start in four seasons by dropping the next two games.

9. Atlanta (1-2): It’s going to take a little time for new coach Nicki Collen to get everyone on the same page.

10. New York (0-2): The short-handed Liberty gave Minnesota all it could handle before Maya Moore won the game for the Lynx.

11. Las Vegas (0-3): The Aces had a solid home debut before falling short against Seattle. With Kelsey Plum and Kayla McBride back wins should be coming soon.

12. Indiana (0-5): The young Fever are struggling on defense, which is putting a lot of pressure on them to score.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Jewell Loyd earned AP player of the week honors after helping Seattle go 3-0 last week. She averaged 25.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists. Other players receiving votes were Elena Delle Donne, Alyssa Thomas and Breanna Stewart.

GAME OF THE WEEK: Sun at Mystics, Sunday. This game looks really good right now, but Washington has three games before returning home for this matchup.

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To find the poll online: https://collegebasketball.ap.org/ap-wnba-power-poll-week-3-0