The Washington Mystics begin a three game home stand tonight against the Chicago Sky. Elena Delle Donne is coming in scorching after winning player of the week honors. The Olympian is averaging 27.3 points and 7.3 rebounds a game during a 4-0 stretch, Washington has yet to beat the Sky in three attempts. The Mystics hope to change that tonight.
It’ll start on the defensive end, one thing teams have been doing recently is putting pressure on the Washington defense by using the pick-and-roll. Teams have been taken advantage of the coverages from Washington. That’s a huge part of basketball, be it mens or womens. If you struggle to defend the pick-and-roll, you’re going to struggle defensively. The Mystics have capable perimeter defenders, it’s just about getting through the screens. They did it late against Dallas, refusing to be screened and it worked out for them.
The Mystics worked on that yesterday, the communication needed to effectively shut down teams or force them into bad shots versus giving them easy looks. The Wings went to it quite often with their guards Odyssey Sims and Skylar Diggins, but they didn’t have a screen setter nearly as dangerous as Chicago does.
Delle Donne is mismatch for nearly every team every night, in screen-and-roll situations she’s deadly. At 6’5, she has the size to shoot over anyone and she can put the ball on the floor to beat bigs on switches. She was the screener for the National team at times and opposing teams didn’t have an answer for her. Chicago isn’t just all Elena though, Cappie Poindexter is a more than capable scorer and so is Courtney Vandersloot They also have some young players that contribute as well, so Washington will have their hands full.
Still, it’s not a situation in where Washington will be overmatched from a talent stand point. The Mystics have to cut out the mistakes and the mental lapses for the remainder of this season if they wish to get to the second season. Kia Vaughn has championship experience, albeit in an overseas league, it’s that kind of experience that Washington has to lean on going forward. She stepped up in a big way in Dallas, she attributed it “to just being my night” and that’s fine, but in these types of situations, that mentality that she plays with needs to be adopted by the entire team.
Talking with Tayler Hill, it’s clear that the team understands the moment ahead of them. It’s win or go home and Washington showed that they wish to keep fighting in Dallas. They have the opportunity they need, it’s up to them to seize it.
Sitting just a game out of the 8th and final playoff spot, Washington needs to take advantage of this stretch and go 2-1 at worst. After the Sky tonight, they take on Seattle on Friday and then the Indiana Fever on Sunday in what will be Tamika Catchings last regular season trip to D.C. in her illustrious career. Washington is 1-1 on the season with Seattle and that’s the team they trail by a game.
Washington controls their own destiny, it’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out.