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Mystics at Sparks Preview: Washington visits the reigning champs on Sunday

meesseman latta Stewart W. Small

The Mystics (10-5) take on the 2016 WNBA champion L.A. Sparks (11-3) on the road this Sunday.

When: Sunday, July 2 at 5:00 p.m.
Where: The Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA
Streaming: WNBA League Pass / Monumental Sports / SPECSN

What to watch for

The (likely) return of Emma Meesseman

After leading the Belgium National Team to a EuroBasket bronze medal, Emma Meesseman is back in the United States and will likely play against the Sparks on Sunday. Meesseman’s passing and hyper-efficient shooting gives the Mystics’ opponents yet another matchup nightmare.

Can the Mystics hold their own against elite teams?

The Mystics currently sit at #3 in the standings, behind the Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx. They have yet to win against either team this year, with two losses to the Lynx and one to the Sparks.

For a team that just added major pieces in the offseason, “best of the rest” isn’t a terrible spot to be in near the middle of the season. But a strong win against the Sparks would help establish the Mystics’ place as a legitimate title contender. The Mystics have come a long way in the Mike Thibault era.

Key to success: Knock down threes

The Sparks are stacked with talent and chemistry, so you have to look pretty hard to find any weaknesses. But there are two that the Mystics are positioned to exploit. While Nneka Ogwumike, Candace Parker, and Jantel Lavender are comfortable patrolling the paint and protecting the rim without fouling, they allow their opponents to shoot a lot of threes (and make them at a roughly league-average rate). The Mystics are already comfortable doing a lot of their scoring from behind the arc and with the return of Meesseman have the ability to throw the Sparks’ defense into disarray with lineups featuring four or even five outside shooters.