Mystics Creating Magic
Early in the season, it was obvious that the Mystics were a talented team. The question was -- will they need to prove their talent and fight to the top, or would they naturally emerge as the championship contenders?
As the season progressed, the Mystics were their own hardest opponent. They floundered in what should've been easy win. It became quite clear that they would need to prove their potential. Nothing was going to be handed to them.
To start, Emma Meeseman’s late arrival caused the team a bit of a stumble as she finished her season overseas. Once she returned, she and Elena Delle Done struggled to adjust in a synchronized frontcourt. All while Kristi Toliver, a significant off-season pickup, was enduring the lowest scoring season of her career.
Beaten and bloodied after a string of tough losses capped off by a disappointing defeat in the finale against the Lynx, the Mystics crawled into the playoffs as the 6th seed. But they were in.
Not many WNBA fans pegged the Mystics to put up a fight worth watching against the exciting Dallas Wings. But the Mystics showed up ready for the postseason. They outplayed their physically superior opponents in the paint. You heard it here first: second chance points won that game for them. The Mystics, for the first time all season, showed what a powerful team they could be in crunch time.
This is the version of the Mystics we were expecting see when the season started. These girls finally proved that they have the size to control the paint on defense, and the shooting ability to win playoff games.
The Mystics next opponent, the New York Liberty, had ended the season on a 10 game winning streak. The Mystics were still the second to lowest seed in the playoffs. And Tina Charles was leading a formidable and deep team.
Then Sunday rolled around and the Mystics gave us yet another epic showdown, this time in Madison Square Garden. The lights were hot, the crowd was rowdy, and the Mystics were waiting to strike.
And strike they did, but only after teasing the Liberty a bit.
First quarter: Liberty 21, Mystics 10.
Liberty getting comfortable, Mystics getting serious
Second Quarter: Liberty: 41 Mystics: 35.
Liberty getting nervous, Mystics getting even
Third Quarter: Liberty: 51 Mystics: 60.
Liberty actively nervous, Mystics stay strong
Second Quarter: Liberty: 68 Mystics: 82.
Liberty losing steam, Mystics taking it home
The Mystics once again showed us their true colors and what they are capable of. They scored a combined 47 points in the second half, dwarfing the Liberty’s 27 points and taking the well deserved win back home to Washington DC.
The Mystics slingshotted themselves to the top with a calm demeanor, without startling their opponent. They pulled off a big upset in NYC, against a team that now faces serious questions about whether they can perform in the playoffs.
And yes, significant kudos go to Kristi Toliver for finding her groove and carrying the team to get that big playoff ‘W’. Toliver dropped 9 out of 16 shots from behind the 3 (which is a new WNBA record). After the Dallas game on September 6th Toliver said that she "was here to shoot." Well shoot she did and damn she went off, but she still walked away with four assists. So no, she is not only a shooter.
Looking to the next round, the Mystics take on the Lynx. WNBA Insidr is excited to see which Washington Mystics team we will get. Do they still need to prove themselves as capable contenders? Or will they just come out and play the dominant ball we've seen in the playoffs?
They took hard hits against the Lynx this season, but EDD only played heavy minutes in one of those three games. With a healthy Delle Donne peaking at the right time, and her supporting cast finally falling into place, don't rush to rule out the Mystics again.
By: Saul Shamash,
WNBAinsidr Contributing writer