Hot start for Mystics, heading west for Week 2


It’s early, but the Washington Mystics are off to a hot start to 2018, sitting in 1st with a 3-0 record. While Washington would like to have a stronger first half than what we saw in games one & two, Thursday’s game against Indiana showed progress. They are entering the weekend, third in field goal percentage (44.7%) and fifth in three-point percentage (35.5%). Additionally, their ability to weather the storm and play timely defense has proven to be most valuable in the early going.

More specifically, the self-proclaimed “bench mob” has stepped up in a big way, especially in Tuesday’s home victory over Las Vegas. In the Mystics’ second win of the season, the second unit tallied 41 of the team’s 75 points. Tianna Hawkins (17 points, seven rebounds Tuesday) and rookie Ariel Atkins (15 points) scored 20 of the team’s fourth-quarter points combined to close out the Aces in a game that started with tremendous shooting struggles.

Despite slow starts, the Mystics have remained focused on playing good team basketball, and everyone has been involved in a pair of gritty victories. In the first three games, 6 different players have reached double figures in the scoring column, while 4 have recorded three or more assists (Washington is averaging 14.3 assists per game so far).

Now, the Mystics will look to take their winning ways on the road as they prepare to head west for their first long road trip of 2018 after a home date with Minnesota on Sunday afternoon. Let’s take a look at what’s in store in the coming week and what to watch for…

Sunday (3 p.m., League Pass, NBCSW) vs. Minnesota

  • The Lynx are averaging 76 PPG, holding opponents to 72.5 PPG. The Mystics are averaging 83.3 PPG, holding opponents to 76.3 PPG
  • Lindsay Whalen is dishing out 8.5 assists per game. The Mystics will need to be aware of where she is on the court at all times as she is also scoring 10 PPG.
  • The Mystics will need to play a full 40 minutes of good basketball to beat the defending champs and keep their win streak alive.

Tuesday (10 p.m., Twitter) at Seattle

  • Seattle is sitting at 1-1 after playing Phoenix twice, dropping game one by 5 points and turning around to beat them by 16. They are scoring 84.5 ppg holding opponents to 79. Similar to our numbers so we could see a small win margin for the outcome.
  • To note, Sue bird is now 8th on the all-time leading scores list, and also averaging 4.5 apg. She is always a factor when she is on the court, so the Mystics will need to continue to play strong team defense.
  • Third-year guard, Jewell Lloyd is leading Seattle in scoring, averaging 19.5 ppg.

Wednesday (10 p.m., League Pass, Monumental) at Phoenix

  • Phoenix is 2-1, but they are giving up 82.3 PPG to their 81.3 PPG. If our three is falling, we will be able to take advantage of the Mercury defense and open up scoring opportunities in the paint.
  • Brittney Griner and DeWanna Bonner are cleaning up the boards average 7 and 8 RPGs, respectively. We will have to make a conscious effort to box out and secure the ball in the paint.

Friday (10:30 p.m., League Pass, Monumental) at Las Vegas

  • This is a quick turn-around for our rematch against the Aces (just 10 days). The biggest note from our first match-up would be our first half. We will need to come out stronger instead of having to fight our way back into the lead.
  • Aces rookie A’ja Wilson had 16 points in our last meeting. We will need to make sure we are aware of where she is on the court to limit her shots..