The Mystics travel to Seattle to play the Storm on Tuesday. Here is what to look for.
Washington Mystics (4-0) vs. Seattle Storm (3-1)
When: Tuesday, May 29 at 10 p.m. EST
How to watch: Twiter will air the game online.
Injuries: Tayler Hill is out due to rehab, and Elena Delle Donne and LaToya Sanders are questionable for the Mystics. Noelle Quinn and Crystal Langhorne are questionable for the Storm.
Storylines to follow
Is the Mystics’ defense for real? The Mystics struggled mightily on the defensive end last year. But in four games so far this year they have the third-best defensive rating in the league at 95.6. On the one hand, this was low-hanging fruit for improvement. The Mystics overhauled their roster last year, so they should be able to improve their defensive chemistry over time. On the other hand, for a team that starts both Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Tolliver - players who can always get you a bucket, but aren’t exactly known for locking down opponents at the other end - a 95.6 defensive rating is phenomenal. It’s dangerous to read too much into four games, but if the Mystics can maintain their defensive success they will likely spend the entire season near the top of the standings.
Battle on the boards: The Mystics are Storm are both stellar rebounding teams. For the Storm, Breanna Stewart’s height and reach, Courtney Paris’ strength, and Jewell Loyd’s athleticism and basketball IQ will present a variety of challenges for the Mystics when it comes time to secure a rebound, but limiting the number of possessions the Storm get is crucial. They have a fast-paced and efficient offense, and they take very good care of the ball. Rookie Myisha Hines-Allen did more than hold her own against Sylvia Fowles and the Lynx on Sunday. Head Coach Mike Thibault should give her chance to do it again against Seattle.
Standout rookies: Hines-Allen and fellow rookie Ariel Atkins have both had solid starts to their professional careers. Atkins is already beating last year’s first round pick, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, and veteran wing Monique Currie for minutes. But competition is fierce on the wing, and it’s hard to see Thibault giving her a long leash if she starts to struggle given how many other options he has. Hines-Allen, meanwhile, started the season as a fringe part of the rotation but looks like she could challenge Krystal Thomas and Tianna Hawkins for minutes.