Mystics 26-8 vs Las Vegas Aces 21-13
When: Tuesday, September 17th, at 8:30 p.m.
Where: Entertainment and Sports Arena
TV: ESPN 2
Mystics: Kiara Leslie – (Out, Torn Meniscus in right knee), Kristi Toliver (Probable, Knee)
Notes – Washington begins their best of five series (2-2-1) against Las Vegas on Tuesday. Below you can find the entire semifinal schedule:
Game One – Tuesday, September, 17th at Washington, 8:30p.m. (ESPN 2)
Game Two – Thursday, September, 19th at Washington, 8:30p.m. (ESPN 2)
Game Three – Sunday, September, 22nd at Las Vegas, 5:00p.m. (ESPN 2)
*Game Four – Tuesday, September, 24th at Las Vegas, TBD (ESPN 2)
*Game Five – Thursday, September, 26th at Washington, TBD (ESPN 2)
* - if necessary
(Regular Season/ Playoffs)
89.3/ N/A- points per game
77.3/ N/A - points against
46.9/ N/A - Field goal %
(Regular Season/ Playoffs)
84.5/ 93.0- points per game
82.8/ 92.0 - points against
44.6/ 46.2- field goal %
Keep an eye on:
Tempo: will be key. It’s no secret that the Aces have a dangerous front court tandem in Aj’a Wilson and Liz Cambage, and that they love to pound teams inside, which creates open shots for teammates, earn trips to the free throw line and draw fouls, forcing line-up changes for opponents which compromises their strategy. To counteract Las Vegas advantage inside, Washington will have to run. Ironically they have a versatile front court that can run with the best of them in the WNBA in Elena Delle Donne, Emma Meesseman, Latoya Sanders as well as reserves Tianna Hawkins and Myisha Hines-Allen. Having a fast temp will wear down Wilson and Cambage and frustrate them, especially with the way Washington moves the ball. In their win over the Sky in the second round, Chicago held a 35-21 lead at the 9:01 mark in the second quarter due to them controlling the game with a fast tempo. Wilson and Cambage had a combined three points at this point. Once Las Vegas focused on getting back in transition and setting up their defense, they took control of the tempo from that point on. The Aces outscored the Sky 72-63 over the remaining 29 minutes of the game with Wilson and Cambage combining for 31 points to survive and advance in the playoffs. Whoever controls Tempo throughout this series will more than likely win the series.
Hi-Low Game: of Washington’s front court will be another thing to watch closely. Trying to bang inside against sixth woman of the year 6’3 Dearica Hamby, 6’4 A’ja Wilson and 6’8 Liz Cambage to create scoring opportunities inside isn’t ideal, not to mention, it clogs the lane and makes it harder for Washington’s guards to drive to the bucket. Simply put you have to draw the Aces bigs outside to create space inside and to do so, you need bigs that can knock down open jumpers. That won’t be an issue for the Mystics. Washington, led by favorite for league MVP Elena Delle Donne, forward Emma Meesseman, center Latoya Sanders, forwards Tianna Hawkins and Myisha Hines-Allen all are capable shooters from the outside and with the exception of Sanders, are capable of attacking the basket off the bounce. Outside of reserve Hines-Allen, all of Washington bigs shoot 50 percent or better from the field and 36 percent or better from deep, taking efficiency to entire higher level. Expect to see a heavy dose of a high-low game from Washington’s front court as they look to keep the Aces front court uncomfortable while wearing them down with their outstanding depth.
Physicality Inside: is a must against Las Vegas. While the Mystics have numerous players with height and length, they don’t have many with girth. At times throughout the season it has shown as teams have beat Washington up inside, forcing their guards to double early and often. That can’t be the case now or it will be a long grueling series. Sanders, Delle Donne, Meesseman, Hawkins and Hines-Allen will have to win their individual match-up defensively the majority of the time to force Vegas to adjust or it will force dig downs from the guards, giving the Aces opportunities from three point range, which they excel at shooting 36 percent from deep as a team during the regular season.
Beware of Colson: in a close mid-season home loss to the Aces, Las Vegas reserve point guard Sydney Colson was the difference. Her pressure defense, quickness and efficient shooting disrupted the Mystics down the stretch securing a win 85-81 win for Vegas, although Washington was without the services of Delle Donne due to injury (nasal fracture). Colson posted a team high 17 points (4-7 FG/ 1-2 3FG/ 8-11 FT), 3 assist and 4 steals in 22 minutes off the bench, helping the Aces overcome an early 15 point deficit to leave DC victorious. Her ability to defend on the ball 94 feet can disrupt the Mystics flow offensively and help the Aces bigs recover when out of position to make a play. Offensively, she can get in the lane and create shots for the Aces shooters like McBride, Plum and Rodgers or drop it off for Wilson, Cambage and Hamby for easy baskets inside. Washington will need to be constantly aware of where Colson is or a repeat performance from her is a possibility.