The Mystics clinched the 2015 playoffs with a 76-72 overtime win over the Indiana Fever on Tuesday night. It was an ugly game offensively, with all Mystics not named Ivory Latta or LaToya Sanders shooting a combined 14-41.
The Mystics also turned the ball over 22 times, something very uncharacteristic for this team so far this season. However, they held former MVP Tamika Catchings to just 2-of-13 shooting and tightened up the defense when it mattered in the fourth quarter and overtime, outscoring the Fever 25-16 during those two periods.
How did they get here?
The Mystics currently boast the fourth-best defensive rating and the third-best opponent field goal percentage. They have the third-most blocked shots in the league, with 47 coming from LaToya Saunders, 41 from Emma Meesseman and 33 from Stefanie Dolson. Saunders has an unreal 9.8 percent block percentage and 18 percent rebound percentage at this point in the season, by far the highest on the team.
Though the majority of the Mystics defensive prowess comes from relentless, no-nonsense team defense, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt deserves a hat tip for spectacular defensive performances against superstars like Maya Moore, Elena Delle Donne, and Tamika Catchings.
The Mystics' offense is fairly average by most metrics, with the sixth best offensive rating, and eighth best two point percentage, free throw attempts, and free throw percentage. However, they are third in the league in three-point percentage and three-point attempts(1).
Who led the charge?
Emma Meesseman, at least according to win shares(2). Meesseman led the Mystics with 4.3 win shares, followed by Ivory Latta with 3 and Stefanie Dolson with 2.8. It should also be noted that Meesseman also led the team in win shares in 2014, with 4.3.
The 2013 Mystics were led by Latta’s 3.7 (then-rookie Meesseman was fifth with 1.3).
Also, this guy might have had something to do with it.
All data from basketball-reference.com and current as of 9/7/15.
(1) Don’t let the dream die, Wizards fans!
(2) A great discussion of the pros and cons to win shares over at The Score.