The Mystics were able to head into the All-Star break on a positive note, topping the Atlanta Dream yesterday in an epic overtime thriller. They’ll get a few days to get away from each other and gear up for the second half of the season. It was a total team performance that got them that win yesterday and they’ll need that going forward to reach their goals after the All-Star break.
Below are a few of my observations from Washington’s win over Atlanta.
Rebounding. Kyrstal Thomas missed what would of been a monster double-double, finishing with 9 points and 17 rebounds. She pulled down 9 offensive rebounds in the contest, playing a huge role in the win. Emma Meesseman had 7 rebounds and Kristi Toliver pulled down 6 in regards to their efforts on the glass. Their commitment to rebounding helped the Mystics complete their rally.
Long Ball. The Mystics shot 39 three pointers against Atlanta, the Dream shot just 16 and Washington made 14 of those attempts. Toliver hit seven triples and Ivory Latta hit five. Their ability to hit the long ball really hurt Atlanta late with Emma getting going inside. Natasha Cloud took eight attempts from deep, knocking down two of them, one of which came late in the game. While 35% doesn’t seem like a great percentage from that range, it looks far better considering the volume of shots that were taken. The Dream hit 50% from that range, but only took 16.
Depth. Washington’s bench has been a strength all season and referring to them as a “bench” may be disrespectful. Cloud, Latta, and Tianna Hawkins combined for 38 points. Both Latta (18 points) and Cloud (10 points) played 28 plus minutes in this one, Hawkins (10 points) was productive in her 12 minutes and hit two huge free throws late in the extra period. Cloud’s assertiveness was a welcome sight, she’s prided herself this season on giving her team whatever they need and with Tayler Hill’s injury and Delle Donne’s absence, those 10 points were needed. Latta continues to show how dangerous she is when fully healthy, proof of such as she’s on the court late in games. That trio came through for Washington once again and will need to continue to be an advantage for this team in the second half of the season.
Defense. The Mystics are capable of playing good defense, it’s about doing it consistently. For two quarters yesterday, they looked uninspired and disengaged on that end of the floor. For the remainder of the game they showed how good they can be if engaged, forcing several 24 second clock violations and several other poor possessions out of Atlanta. After shooting 58% and 70% in the first two quarters, the Dream shot a blistering 64.7% for the first half. The Mystics would limit them to 26% and 33% in the third and fourth quarters. In overtime, Atlanta was held to 28%. It was a great display of defense from Washington, but it shouldn’t of started after they went down 21.
Dream Rising. The Dream have a lot to be proud of, with three players are headed to the All-Star game this week (Williams, Clarendon, and Hayes). Against Washington, it was a glimpse at what could be a tremendous duo for the Dream in the very near future. Tiffany Hayes scored 24 points against Washington, Brittney Sykes had 27. The rookie got it done by attacking the rim relentlessly, earning 13 trips to the charity stripe. Hayes was her normal self, she showed why she was the top vote getter at guard in the East. Late in overtime, Washington kept trying to pull away but Hayes refused to go quietly, nailing two big three pointers. With three players named to the All-Star team and a sure fire rookie of the year candidate, the Dream have a bright future.