The Washington Mystics are just one game back of first place, they’re also the team that gave the first placed team their only loss of the season. The Mystics are coming off a hard earned win over the Los Angeles Sparks earlier this week, winning 84-80 behind a career high from Tierra Ruffin-Pratt.
Since beating the Mystics, the Dream have struggled a bit. Much of it having to do with losing Tiffany Hayes and Aneika Henry who are participating in the European games. They still have one of the best scorers in the league in Angel, the second leading scorer as a matter of fact with 20.8 points per game.
In their first meeting this season, the Mystics got out to a double-digit lead before the Dream rallied. Pulling out a three point win behind a big time triple from McCoughtry. This time Atlanta will be the home team, but they’re just 2-3 in their building. The Mystics have yet to lose on the road this season.
One of the biggest differences in tonight’s game outside of the absence of Hayes and Henry, is that Ruffin-Pratt will be on the floor. She’s arguably Washington’s best defender and she’ll be able to at least bother Angel. If Ruffin-Pratt comes out as aggressive on the offensive end as she did against the Sparks, than McCoughtry will be forced to defend as well.
Washington also had one of their starters make their season debut last game in Bria Hartley, she only played six minutes, but was on the floor during winning time. The Mystics have yet to start hitting on all cylinders on the offensive end, but they’ve still scored 80 plus points in the past three games. The Dream have to make sure they don’t become the first team to let all of the Mystics shooters get hot.
One of the recurring messages from Washington’s Coach Thibault after games, even wins, is that Emma Meesseman is not getting enough touches. Washington doesn’t have that superstar like Chicago or Minnesota, but Meesseman could be on her way. The third year pro is really coming into her own, she’s an integral part of Washington’s offense whether she gets the ball on the block or in the high post. She’s proven this season that she’s capable of carrying a heavy load on that end of the floor. The Dream will surely have their hands full, but it’s imperative that the Mystics don’t make it easier on them by not giving Emma the ball.
Keys to a Mystics Victory
- Feed Emma. She’s the key to their offense, she’s a mismatch for every defense they’ve faced and will face. Keeping her involved on offense makes everything easier for everyone else
- Killer Instinct. The Mystics have had a lead of double-digits in almost every game this season, they’ve done a little better in pulling out close games. But they have to start pushing those 11, 13 point leads to 20, 25
- Keep pushing the pace. The Mystics are at their best when they are forcing the opposing team to run, they can play in the halfcourt but they have a depth advantage on most teams and should try and wear them out
- Shooters keep shooting. Eventually, Washington’s shooters will start hitting their shots. They’ve gotten great looks all season long, they won’t keep missing