The Mystics have dodged the injury bug most of this season. But on Friday, both Elena Delle Donne and Tayler Hill succumbed to leg injuries. We’ll see how Emma Meesseman and the gang cope without them on Sunday when the Mystics play the Liberty on Sunday afternoon:
Where and when: 3 p.m. ET at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY
TV/streaming: MSG (NYC area), Monumental Sports Network (150 miles of D.C.), NBA TV (everywhere else in the USA), WNBA League Pass (worldwide)
Injuries: For the Liberty, Brittany Boyd is out for the season due to an achilles injury. For the Mystics, Elena Delle Donne is questionable due to an ankle injury. Tayler Hill is officially questionable due to a knee injury, but she is really doubtful.
More Thibault: "I don't know if we'll have Elena for Sunday (@NYL) but we'll see how the next 2 days go and I don't think we'll see Tayler."— Rob from Chester, Pa (@knoxrob1) July 15, 2017
What to watch for
There’s only one thing we want to see if both Delle Donne and Hill can’t play on Sunday.
Will Emma Meesseman play “American?”
We’ve gone in depth why she was the Mystics’ best player in each of the last three seasons until now — and that’s because Delle Donne came here. But even though Meesseman is as skilled and as good of a player as anyone, Americans aren’t willing to buy in because she just won’t shoot the basketball or flail her arms when driving to the hoop in an attempt to draw a foul.
There’s basketball in an ideal world for Meesseman when she’d move without the ball and Julie Vanloo or Kim Mestdagh will instinctively pass the ball to her for an easy layup like we saw time and time again in EuroBasket last month. Neither play in this league.
Though Americans play basketball with a lot of designed plays, the players are more athletic and more selfish. And you see players drive to the hoop when there are defenders even though there aren’t any good shot opportunities.
Meesseman may not want to “take all the shots” like she said to Belgian Dutch newspapers last year. But if Hill AND Delle Donne are gone for a significant length of time, Meesseman is probably going to have to do ... just that more often than she’d like.
Injuries suck. No one wants to see two of the Mystics’ three players miss games, perhaps many of them. But I want to see the Meesseman I saw in EuroBasket Women. And I want to see her be downright aggressive. She showed us that she can be great when she’s in her comfort zone with players she’s been with since she was a teenager. But even if Delle Donne and Hill are okay, it’s not like Meesseman has a free pass to be “passive.”
Let’s hope we see her unleash her inner beast like she did against “The Establishment” like Italy and “The Enemy” like the Netherlands in the last couple of months, not only tomorrow, but for the rest of the season.