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Expect New York to extend its win streak -- and Phoenix to pull an upset

Brittney Griner, right, led the league in scoring, while Jonquel Jones set a single-season record for most rebounds. Williams Paul/Icon Sportswire

A marquee one-on-one matchup is one of the most fun things to watch. And that will be the case Sunday when post players Brittney Griner and Jonquel Jones clash as Phoenix travels to Connecticut in the second round of the WNBA playoffs.

Griner, the Mercury center who led the WNBA in scoring this season (21.9 PPG), is a past WNBA champion and an Olympic gold medalist. In her fifth WNBA season, she has taken on added responsibility for the Mercury and sparked them with 23 points and 11 rebounds Wednesday in a first-round victory over Seattle.

Now Griner and the Mercury go on the road to face Connecticut, which has had a breakout season from Jones, a second-year center/forward. She set a WNBA single-season rebounding record with 403 and appears on her way to being one of the top players in the league.

Sunday's other second-round game, in New York, also has star power: Two former MVPs will meet as Tina Charles leads the Liberty against Washington and Elena Delle Donne.

The second-round winners move on to the best-of-five semifinals, with the highest seed going on to face No. 2 Los Angeles and the other to face No. 1 Minnesota.

Here is a closer look at Sunday's games:

(5) Phoenix at (4) Connecticut ESPN2, 3 p.m. ET

The Sun won the regular-season series 2-1, and all those games were played in the last month-plus. The 6-foot-9 Griner and 6-6 Jones didn't meet in the first game, a 93-92 Sun victory at Connecticut, because Griner was still recovering from knee and ankle injuries suffered July 14.

Griner was back for the second meeting, also in Connecticut, and this one was a Sun blowout: 94-66. Griner had 18 points and six rebounds; Jones had 20 and eight.

Then on Sept. 1 in Phoenix, it was all Griner and the Mercury in an 86-66 victory. Griner had 31 points and eight rebounds; Jones, five and nine.

Their individual matchup is not the only thing that will decide the game, though. The Sun had one of the league's best offenses this season, and if that's working, it will be a challenge for the Mercury to stop.

Connecticut has been boosted by two second-year players in Jones and guard Courtney Williams, plus some older players like guard Jasmine Thomas, who is having the best season statistically of her career.

Alyssa Thomas, a 6-2 forward, is also giving the Sun a big year, averaging 14.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists in her fourth season in the league. She is a scoring and playmaking threat, with the size and strength to make her difficult to guard.

Phoenix, though, has one of the most clutch, experienced players to ever compete in the WNBA in guard Diana Taurasi, who will have her share of fans back close to where she played collegiately at UConn. Taurasi has averaged 21.0 points in 48 career playoff games. And both Taurasi and Leilani Mitchell have shown the ability late in games to hit big shots from the perimeter.

Pick: We're going with the upset. The Sun have had a tremendous season and they should be favored here, no doubt. But expect another big game from Griner, with her and Camille Little leading the way defensively, and a rise-to-the-occasion scoring performance from Taurasi.

No. 6 Washington at No. 3 New York ESPN2, 5 p.m. ET

The Liberty have lost must-win games at home in Madison Square Garden each of the past two years. In 2015, it was Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals to Indiana. Last season, it was the single-elimination second-round game to Phoenix, as the WNBA started its new playoff format.

Those losses really stung the Liberty, who missed the playoffs in 2013 and '14, and they are going to be highly motivated to win this game. The Liberty also are on a 10-game winning streak; they haven't lost since Aug. 4 in Los Angeles.

What's working well for New York? Everything. The Liberty have built their identity around defense under coach Bill Laimbeer, who is in his fifth season in New York. And right now the Liberty are using their defense to control the pace of games, which is important to their success.

And like a machine, Charles just keeps rolling: She has averaged a double-double and 32.5 minutes per game in her eight-year career. This season, her numbers are 19.7 PPG and 9.4 RPG, and everyone in the locker room listens to and respects Charles.

Epiphanny Prince (12.0 PPG) has come back with a solid season after missing most of last year with a knee injury suffered overseas in 2015. Three other guards -- Shavonte Zellous, Bria Hartley and Sugar Rodgers -- are also playing well. In mid-July, Hartley moved into a starting role, with Rodgers going to the bench.

But we can't count out Washington. Yes, we picked against the Mystics in the first round, but they executed a very good game plan in holding off Dallas. And with two players as hard to guard as 6-5 Delle Donne and 6-4 Emma Meesseman, even a defense like New York's will be tested.

The Liberty can't overlook Mystics center Krystal Thomas, either: She had one of her best games of the season -- 17 points and nine rebounds -- against New York on Aug. 25. In the first-round win over Dallas, she had 17 rebounds.

Pick: Make it 11 in a row. The Liberty went 2-1 against the Mystics in the regular season, and they should have enough scoring to come out on top here even if Delle Donne has a big game.