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By Philip Rossman-Reich
Lynx Writer

Scouting Report - Lynx (7-4) vs. Mystics (5-4) 7 PM

Last season Washington struggled to a 10-24 record. The Mystics find themselves halfway to that win total nearly a one-third of the way through the season. This is a much improved team. But Washington has had an up-and-down season since winning its first three games. The Mystics are 2-4 since capping their streak with a six-point victory in Detroit. Washington heads to Minneapolis to wrap up a four-game road trip. The Mystics only have one win on the trip, a two-point win against the Silver Stars in San Antonio.

Washington's strength remains in its guards. Alana Beard has had a stellar season so far, averaging 18.9 points per game and 3.11 steals per game. Beard has played much like Seimone Augustus was before her injury. She has had games of 31 and 27 points and has scored more 20 points or more three times this season. She can put up points in a hurry.

But Washington has been able to find success when the team finds balance. It is no coincidence that the team has struggled since rookie Marissa Coleman, who was second on the team with 12.7 points, went out with an ankle injury. Coleman was expected to miss four to six weeks after her injury in mid-June, but has participated fully in practice the past two days and the Washington Post reports Mystics coach Julie Plank said there is a chance she could play against the Lynx.

They will need her to take on high-scoring Minnesota. Washington has struggled defensively since the end of their three-game winning streak to start the season. The Mystics allowed 73.0 points per game during that streak, but since then has given up 80.0 points per game and have given up more than 90 points per game twice -- to the Dream and the Mercury, two of the highest scoring teams in the league. Minnesota can certainly put up that many points and can take advantage of Washington's struggling defense.

The Mystics will do a good job on the glass. Washington grabs 34.2 rebounds per game, led by Lindsey Hardin's 8.0 boards per game. Minnesota's struggle on the defensive glass after Thursday's loss to Sacramento are well documented. Expect a more focused effort to control the glass in this game against a team that averages 11.2 offensive rebounds per game.

Washington is also an incredibly deep team. Three of the Mystics' top five scorers come off the bench. Washington is scoring an average of 27.4 points per game from the bench. Minnesota gets just 19.8 points per game off the bench -- and that has decreased since Roneeka Hodges moved into the starting lineup. The Lynx get a lot of points from their starting lineup, but keeping players fresh as the Mystics funnel in players off their bench will be important this game.

In Washington's last win against San Antonio, the team got 19 points from Lindsey Harding. Harding had 11 points in the Mystics' seven-point loss to the Dream on Friday. Washington will get a good performance from its bench, but can win if the team gets production from its starters.

Keys To A Win For Minnesota:
--Make the Mystics watch Beard work
--Force a faster tempo
--Secure the glass
--Take the lead early

Matchup To Watch:
Kelly Miller vs. Lindsey Harding

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