Mystics 27-8 (1-0) vs Las Vegas Aces 21-14 (0-1)
When: Thursday, September 19th, at 8:30 p.m.
Where: Entertainment and Sports Arena
TV: ESPN 2
Mystics: Kiara Leslie – (Out, Torn Meniscus in right knee)
Notes – Washington continues their best of five series (2-2-1) against Las Vegas on Thursday. Below you can find the entire semifinal schedule:
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/ 97.0- points per game
77.3/ 95.0 - points against
46.9/ 44.7 - Field goal %
(Regular Season/ Playoffs)
84.5/ 94.0- points per game
82.8/ 94.5 - points against
44.6/ 47.8- field goal %
Keep an eye on:
Defensive Awareness/ Physicality: is an area of improvement Washington will need to make immediately. Las Vegas bigs for the majority of the game, out ran Washington’s bigs from basket to basket and either established great position to score in the paint or forced the Mystics guards to come into the lane to help stop an easy basket, opening up opportunities for the Aces three point shooters. Washington failed to adapt to cross-matching (when a player is defending a different player than who is guarding them on the other end) throughout the game and Las Vegas made them pay with highly efficient scoring from the field (50.7%), three point range (53.8%) and from the charity strip (81.8%). The times the Mystics did make the adjust properly on defense, they fouled, resulting in 22 free throw attempts for the Aces which was doubled the amount Washington took (10). Non-stop communication and attention to detail on defense can easily correct this issue from game one, while creating more opportunities for Washington to get out on the break for scoring opportunities.
Last, Washington must become more physical inside the paint. Too often, Aj’a Wilson and Liz Cambage got to their spot in the post or grabbed a rebound without much resistance. That has to change. It puts too much pressure on the guards to have to dig down literally on every possession to help prevent an easy score from the Aces lethal front court tandem, and try to recover to challenge Vegas three point shooters like Kayla McBride and Kelsey Plum. Which will fatigue the perimeter players as the game goes on. Washington front court will have to help themselves and take on the challenge physically. Tianna Hawkins did the best job of this in the second half, fronting Cambage repeatedly, making it hard for her to receive entry passes in the post and keeping a body on her so another Mystics (Meesseman) could get the rebound. It frustrated Cambage and that’s when Washington went on their third quarter run. Despite being undersized, Hawkins threw her body around and had success. Something the other Mystics front court players can take note of and apply moving forward.
Be Themselves: offensively. It looked like at times throughout the game, they were trying to force feed Delle Donne too much. That predictability resulted in numerous shot clock violations or a last second shot attempt. While Elena Delle Donne is an all-world scorer, relying on her to carry the offensive load isn’t what made Washington the top team in the WNBA, it was their ball movement, which allowed the team to maximize their outstanding depth, skill and versatility. With Washington moving the ball, everyone on the floor became a scoring threat, which ironically opened things up for Delle Donne to do what she does better than anyone in the league, score efficiently. The Mystics should just be themselves, stay in character, and when its closing time, look for the soon to be MVP to do what MVP’s do.
Natasha Cloud: continue to set the tone. She played a near flawless game as floor general for the Mystics. She displayed great energy, leadership, shot efficiently (4-8 FG/ 3-5 3FG/1-1 FT), put her teammates in spots where they could exploit match-up’s and make plays. She was a pest defensively and did it all without committing a single turnover. You can’t ask for much more from a point guard. Maintaining this level of play will go a LONG way towards Washington inching closer towards their championship goals without much resistance.