Michaela Smalley \ Aug 20th, 2019
At the beginning of this 2019 WNBA season, fans and media personnel alike were hailing the Las Vegas Aces or the Los Angeles Sparks as the most likely contenders to win it all. With trades that many thought essentially “stacked” these two teams, who can blame them? But one silent, hungry beast went mistakingly undetected. That team is the Washington Mystics. The Mystics, who fell short (3-0) in the 2018 WNBA Finals series against the Seattle Storm, came into this season with one focus and one mission. A WNBA Championship.
The Washington Mystics went from not even being mentioned in the pre-season to sitting at #1 in league standings and clinching their spot in the 2019 playoffs. So what is it that is behind this Mystics team? What is driving them and how will this keep propelling them through the remainder of the regular season and into the playoffs? Perhaps there are a few explanations for their tenacity.
First off, the slogan that the team adopted for this season which is “Run it Back” has been the fire and the hype that has pushed the Mystics to prepare to go after the hardware they left behind against Seattle last season. This slogan is also the mission statement of each of the women who suite up in a Mystics uniform, as well as the heartbeat of the coaching staff and fans. The ‘stics are hungry and they will not stop working until they reach that ultimate goal. Simply put, this team is ready to tackle their unfinished business as they begin to close out this season and enter the playoffs. The Mystics clinched their ticket to the playoffs last Friday night in an 86-79 road win over the Minnesota Lynx at the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN. This win was part of a 6 game winning streak for the ‘stics that is still ongoing. Not only have the Mystics punched their ticket to the playoffs, but the assault on league and franchise records is also turning heads. Currently, the Washington Mystics lead the league in points per game, field goal percentage, assists per game free throw percentage, three-pointers made, and the least amount of turnovers per game.
Early in the season, the Mystics faced some trying times as guard-forward Elena Delle Donne was out with a knee injury, returned, and then was out again suffering a fractured nose. This paired with missing forward Emma Meesseman due to overseas play, led this then flustered Washington team to some tough losses. After Delle Donne’s return, many questioned if Delle Donne and Meeseeman could play together or if there would be competitive tension. Despite all of the speculation, Delle Donne and Meeseman actually complement each other very well and make any defense they face have to make difficult and daring decisions on how to effectively lock down these players. Luckily for the Mystics, other teams are having difficulties guarding them when they are both on the floor. Guarding Meesseman leave Delle Donne with an open shot or a drive to the basket that everyone knows is going to lead to two made free throws. On the other hand, guarding Delle Donne often leaves Meesseman open for the shot or layup just the same. It is safe to say that this team makes their opponents earn everything on the defensive end. They simply do not quit and their chemistry is likely the best in the league.
Each member of the Mystics team/staff is equally bought-in to the goal. They are coming for the 2019 WNBA Championship and they do not plan to let anything stand in their way.
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images