Mystics Ready for Tough Weekend

After a tough loss on Wednesday to the New York Liberty, the Washington Mystics have little time to think about it before they’re on the court again.

The Mystics (9-10) have a tough and busy weekend ahead starting with a matchup on the road with the Chicago Sky (12-5) on Friday before returning home on Sunday for a matinee game against the Los Angeles Sparks.

“We definitely can’t feel sorry for ourselves,” said Mystics forward Monique Currie. “We have a really tough stretch coming up here. Going up to Chicago will be very difficult. They’re first in the East and a very good team, but a beatable team. So we have to forget about the game against New York, focus on Chicago and find a way to win.”

Friday’s game against the Sky will be the team’s third matchup with the series tied 1-1. Washington dropped the first game of the series 85-89 on Chicago’s Camp Day on July 10th. The second game of the series, which was on the Mystics’ Camp Day, Washington rallied from a 21-point deficit to beat the Sky 82-78 just before the All-Star break.

Chicago currently sits in first place in the East with a half game up on the Atlanta Dream. The Mystics are clinging to their third place slot in the East and need a win this weekend to strengthen their hold.

In order to grab the series lead against the Sky, Washington will need to contain rookie forward Elena Delle Donne’s 18.2 points per game and 5.4 rebounds. Delle Donne is fourth in the WNBA in scoring. Her status is uncertain (concussion), but the Mystics need to prepare as if she will play.

One of the things that make Chicago a lethal opponent is their ability to find scoring up and down their lineup. The Mystics also have to look out for guard Epiphanny Prince who averages 16.2 points per game and center Sylvia Fowles who averages 15.0 points per game and a league leading 11.7 rebounds. Fowles is also second in the league with 2.4 blocks per game.

“Dealing with Sylvia Fowles will be tough, butut we have to play defense on bigs as a team we can’t just leave it up to one player to try and stop someone so dominant,” Currie said. “So if we can help out the post players wherever we can and kind of dig at the ball and make her uncomfortable and make all the bigs uncomfortable that’s what we want to do.”

Washington struggled to contain the Liberty in the paint on Wednesday and will need to do a better job of protecting the basket with a dominant Fowles down low.

After Friday’s game the Mystics will have no time to rest before they face the Sparks. Los Angeles (12-6) currently sits in second place in the West just 2.5 games behind the league leading Minnesota Lynx.

This will be the second matchup between Washington and the Sparks. The first time these two teams met, on June 23rd, the Mystics fell 69-79 on the road.

In order to grab the win, Washington needs to slow down All-Star MVP Candace Parker. Parker averages 18.1 points per game on 48.2% shooting and is fourth in the WNBA in rebounding with 9.2 per game. She also adds 2.06 blocks per game, which is good for third in the league. Washington will once again have to solidify their defense down low in order to contain Parker.

Like the Sky, the Sparks have deep scorers including guard Kristi Toliver who averages 14.7 points per game and 3.3 assists and forward Nneka Ogwumike who averages 13.6 points per game and 7.3 rebounds. Ogwumike is second in the league in field goal percentage shooting 58.2 % from the field.

With a tough road ahead the Mystics have the opportunity to make huge strides towards their playoff aspirations. After Sunday’s game, Washington will be on the road again Tuesday to face the New York Liberty for a second time in six days.