Before Wednesday’s game, Mystics General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault stated that “the playoffs have already started” given that they had three home games in the next five days.
The Chicago Sky were the first opponent tonight. Given that Chicago had the Mystics’ number this season and have Elena Delle Donne as their franchise player, Washington certainly had their work cut out for them. It’s not a good matchup when you consider that the Mystics entered this game with an 11-17 record, and fighting for their playoff lives.
Fortunately, the Mystics stepped up to the plate and gave the Sky an epic beatdown in a 118-81 win. This was Washington’s franchise high for points scored in a game AND the team also made a franchise record 16 three pointers. Washington also dished 33 team assists compared to nine turnovers. Chicago was very efficient in the assist to turnover category themselves with 17 points to 9 turnovers, but 33 to 9 is a hell of a lot better than 17 to 9.
Most of the storylines you will read tonight will focus on Tayler Hill leading all scorers with 21 points on 7 of 13 shooting. She also made four of the Mystics’ three pointers. And to her credit, she was a beast tonight. Leilani Mitchell also scored a season high 20 points off the bench. They and Thibault spoke on the game in the video below:
But the player of the game should be Emma Meesseman who scored 17 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and dished six assists. I’ll explain why in a bit.
For Chicago, Elena Delle Donne scored four points but only played in the first quarter and sat out the rest of the game due to a thumb injury.
INJURY UPDATE: Elena Delle Donne out for remainder of game w/ thumb injury— CHICAGO SKY (@wnbachicagosky) September 8, 2016
Courtney Vandersloot led their scorers with 17 points and 8 assists.
So, let’s get to the things we learned from this game.
Emma Meesseman is most dangerous when people forget that she’s around
Meesseman scored just four points in the first half, but she quietly got her six assists in during that time while Hill and Mitchell were going bonkers from three. Meesseman was in a bit of a scoring rut since she didn’t score in double digits for each of the last two games.
In the third quarter, Meesseman took over as a scorer when she added 13 points of her own in quick succession. She also made all six of her shots, which is a testament to how efficient she is. Yes, Washington was already up 56-39 to start the third quarter, but again, Meesseman was making an impact in other ways — most notably with her passing — to make an impact.
It’s a little unfortunate in my opinion that she’s not going to be viewed as a hero for the game. But she really is the engine that makes this team go, even if she isn’t the most overtly vocal or aggressive driving to the hoop.
This game shows us the ideal way this roster should play
The Mystics have generally been quite good at three point shooting over the last four seasons. Today, got to see regular long range shooters like Hill and Meesseman do their thing. But Leilani Mitchell had yet to perform at her potential in a D.C. uniform. We finally saw that in this big win with her three point shooting.
The Mystics are very good at shooting three pointers from every position relative to the norm. When things are clicking from deep, there’s more space for the post game as well. Overall, this game was very enjoyable to watch.
Don’t consider this Mystics blowout as something to expect in a possible playoff match with the Sky
Washington was leading 25-19 after the first quarter, but if Delle Donne weren’t injured, she would have played more than her fair share of minutes in this game. When Delle Donne and the Sky play the Mystics, they have won almost every time.
Sure, Delle Donne was in this game and the Sky lost, but that was due to an unforeseen thumb injury. If it didn’t happen, I don’t see this game being a 37 point blowout.
If the Mystics get into the playoffs, it will probably be as the 7th or 8th seed, while Chicago (15-14) is now 5th. Therefore, this could very well be a first round matchup if things play out right.
Some other things
- There was a crowd of Belgians today. They included Meesseman’s family. They must have been very happy to see this game and that Meesseman made a big impact throughout her time on the court. Geweldig!
- Ivory Latta sat out the third straight game due to a sore right knee, while LaToya Sanders had a left foot stress reaction.
- The Mystics taunted the Seattle Storm on Twitter after Seattle’s 102-78 win over the New York Liberty earlier tonight. The Mystics host the Storm on Friday in a battle between Blue Cats and Terrapins.
TRIPLE DIGITS!!!— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) September 8, 2016
We have reached 100 points for the first time since 2012, now lead 102-76 in the final minute!