As the best-of-five WNBA Finals series heads East to Washington, the Mystics return home encouraged, despite their 0-2 deficit in the series. “We’re going to be better. We were better from the day before. We’re going to be better when we get home, and we’re going to knock down shots.” said Kristi Toliver following Game 2 on Sunday afternoon. After a hard-fought 2-point loss that featured a no-call late in the fourth quarter, the Mystics know what needs to be done to keep their season alive. Following the Mystics final practice before Game 3 Tuesday Elena Delle Donne put it best, “What better place to take care of business than at home.” Below are a few factors to secure the W.
THREE POINT SHOOTING
The Mystics finished third overall in the regular season with 277 three-pointers, just behind Seattle and Phoenix. They ranked fifth overall percentage-wise, shooting 35.8% behind the arc. It has been a different story in this Finals matchup, with the Mystics’ perimeter shooting lagging behind their regular season numbers. In Game 1, Washington connected on just 3-of-21 shots from behind the arc and was 0-for-16 from downtown in Game 2, a season low. “I didn’t know we were 0-for-16,” said Toliver (who was 0 for 6 from deep) when she learned of the 3-point woes. “That’s a huge factor in the game, too. As a 3-point shooting team, we need some of those to go in.”
The Mystics took much better care of the ball in Game 2, committing just two turnovers through the first three quarters, while forcing 11 from the Storm. In the fourth quarter, however, with the lead bouncing back-and-forth, miscues caused the Mystics to commit five turnovers, preventing them from overtaking the Storm. Toliver seemed confident after the game in the team’s ability to learn from their road experience and improve. “Honestly, that’s part of what the difference of the game was. If we can clean that up, value the ball, we talked about it at the beginning of the game of just valuing it for 40 minutes. We got to about 35.”
Now with their backs against the wall again, must-win Playoff games are something that the Mystics are no stranger to this postseason. After a commanding Round 2 victory against the Sparks in front of a rowdy home crowd, they battled back from a 2-1 Semifinal deficit to force a Game 5 in Atlanta and got the win on the road, earning their first Finals appearance in Franchise history.
“Win. That’s it. It’s pretty simple. It’s win or we go home.” Kristi Toliver said when asked of the teams’ mindset going into Game 3 down 0-2. Seattle took care of business on their home court; with a deafening crowd providing quite a home-court advantage. Now it’s time for the Mystics, with the help of their sixth man, to do the same.
Game 3 is on Wednesday night at George Mason University’s EagleBank Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 PM ET (ESPN 2).