Mystics: G – Cloud, G – Hill, F – Ruffin-Pratt, F – Meesseman, C – Dolson
Sky: G – Vandersloot, G – Pondexter, F – Young, F – Delle Donne, C – Boyette
Crucial Home Stretch
The Mystics return home after splitting a two-game road trip in Minnesota and Dallas and enter Wednesday night’s game just a half game out of a playoff spot. The team will play their next three games at home and with just six games left in the season (four home, two road), it’s officially crunch time in DC.
“The playoffs have already started,” said head coach Mike Thibault following the team’s practice on Tuesday.
“We’ve told our team, every game will feel like it and will be like a playoff game. We’re lined up playing against opponents who are in the same position as us in a lot of ways and the pressure will be on. But, the opportunity is in front of us, we have control of our own destiny, if we get in we’ll have earned it, and if not, we probably don’t deserve it.”
Starts with Chicago
If the Mystics want to start this homestand on the right foot, they’ll need to beat the Sky for the first time this season. Washington is 0-3 against Chicago on the year, although in their last meeting, it took overtime for the Sky to slide past the ‘Stics. The Mystics actually led by 10 at the half, but were undone by a third quarter in which they were outscored 25-11. After the team rallied to force overtime, Chicago’s Courtney Vandersloot hit the game-winner with 4.6 seconds left in the extra frame to begin a very tough month of July for the Mystics.
Chicago enters Wednesday’s game on a four-game win streak and have seemed to have found their stride. They scored over 90 points in all four of those wins and are coming off a blowout win over San Antonio on Sunday. It of course has started with last year’s MVP and this season’s leading scorer Elena Delle Donne (22.1 ppg), who is coming off a 35 point performance on Sunday. But, just stopping EDD won’t be enough, as Thibault noted when talking about Chicago.
“They have a ton of really good scorers, good rebounding team, good free throw shooting team, obviously it starts with Delle Donne, but Cappie, Vandersloot, the young rookie Boyette is playing great, Tamera Young has been on a really good stretch for them, and they have a bench. They are playing nine players who all contribute a lot, we have our work cut out for us, if we can make every shot they take tough, then we give ourselves a chance to rebound the ball and run.”
Hill on Fire
While Chicago has plenty of offensive firepower, the Mystics have seen one of their own guards develop into a premiere scorer.
Tayler Hill, who scored 25 points in these two teams’ last meeting, went for 25 again in the Mystics’ win over Dallas on Sunday. It was the seventh time this season she’s scored at least 20 points in a game and she now leads the team in scoring, averaging 15.7 ppg (10th in WNBA).
While Hill was more of a perimeter player during her first few years in the league, she’s really developed into a complete scorer, ranking second in the league in free-throw attempts at 6.3 per game. Her ability to get into the paint and get to the line has made her one of the tougher two guards in the league to defend.
“I think when you have an athlete with that much quickness, who can shoot the ball on the perimeter and attack the basket, people have to play her a little more honestly. They used to crowd her on the perimeter, but now because she can finish at the rim and get to the line, people have to play her a little more honestly,” said Thibault.
The Sky may use Tamera Young, one of their better perimeter defenders, on Hill to try and limit her effectiveness in this one tonight.
Breast Health Awareness Night
The Mystics will wear pink jerseys for Wednesday night’s game for their annual Breast Health Awareness Night. The game-worn jerseys will be auctioned off online to benefit the Capital Breast Care Center.