The Washington Mystics are still out on the road, after suffering a tough loss to the Seattle Storm on Sunday they are in Phoenix to take on the Mercury later this afternoon. The loss in Seattle put them 4.5 games back of the East leading New York Liberty. As of now, Washington is the only team that hasn’t clinched a playoff berth in the East as Indiana and Chicago have already done so. The positive for Washington is that there are still a few games left, but they do need to generate some wins over the next few games to solidify the fourth and final playoff spot in the conference.
The loss in Seattle was especially disappointing because of how it happened, Washington started the game on a roll. They jumped all over the Storm and were comfortably ahead heading into the second half. Then, Seattle turned the game on it’s head The Storm used a 19-0 run that spanned nearly 10 minutes, Washington didn’t score for that entire run and it cost them the game. Seattle deserves a large chunk of credit for the performance, their resiliency even. But if you’ve been watching the Mystics this season, it looked like one of those games in which they played a huge part in their own demise as well. There’s no time to dwell on their performance against Seattle as they visit the reigning champs today who will certainly be thinking of the loss they suffered in Washington just last week.
The Mystics have all the ability they need to go into Phoenix and leave with a win tonight, but will they do what needs to be done? They are still a young team that struggles to put opponents away and it’s happened all throughout the season. With the playoffs approaching and them not at their best, they must get back to playing to their strengths.
Through. The. Bigs. Just that simple, Washington has one of the deepest groups of post players in the league, more often than not, their offense breaks down and becomes incredibly stagnant when the ball stops going inside. They do a good job of remembering that on the starting unit, it’s when Kia Vaughn and LaToya Sanders come in when the offense sometimes forgets where it’s bread is buttered. Vaughn must get touches on that second unit, when she doesn’t the offense dies and Washington typically loses the lead that was built before the unit comes on the floor.
Another thing that might help Washington, obviously the return of Kara Lawson, but more so the return of Tayler Hill. Her attacking nature would typically help that second unit avoid some of those pitfalls on the offensive end. She also does a good job of delivering clean entry passes, that in itself is a huge issue that’s missing. Vaughn and Sanders typically do a great job of establishing post position (especially Kia), the entry passes must be better.
This afternoon they’ll face a Mercury team that will be looking for revenge. Especially Griner that didn’t play particularly well in D.C. last week, with several “mental breakdowns” as she stated and foul trouble. Which means feeding the bigs is even more important this afternoon for Washington.
The Mystics aren’t in real danger of losing that last playoff spot, but as Vaughn stated last season, “you want to go into the playoffs on a good note”. To do so, Washington has to find that consistency they’ve been looking for all season, the team has the ability to make the postseason and possibly make a run, but it all starts with consistency.