The Washington Mystics (13-9) play the Connecticut Sun (13-9) Friday evening with12 games left in the season.
Based on the schedule, I have the Mystics winning eight out of the dozen, which should place them in solid contention for a top four finish.
Where and When Verizon Center, Washington D.C. 7:00 P.M. ET.
Streaming WNBA League Pass, NBATV, CSN, CSNHD.
Despite having a brand new roster, injuries - including the announcement that Natasha Cloud has a plantar fascia tear, and EuroBasket interruptions, the Mystics have the opportunity to not only make the playoffs, but also secure a first round bye because of the new ‘no-conference’ format.
The top two teams in the WNBA will have double-byes in both of the one-game elimination rounds. The third and fourth seeded teams, based solely on their overall record, will skip the first round, meeting those winners in round 2 to fight for a berth in the Semi-finals and potentially the Finals, which are both 5 game series.
I bring up the playoffs because this game against the Sun has important implications. Both teams are tied in the standings at the moment, and considering the Mystics lost their last meeting with Connecticut by letting a 22 point lead slip away, that loss had to put a chip on their shoulders.
Not to mention, this year’s Sun squad, led by Jonquel Jones who is averaging a double-double for the season, as well as, Jasmine Thomas and Alyssa Thomas are proving to be a tough adversary for the new look Mystics.
In their first meeting, May 31, the Mystics won by two points, 78-76. The last game, July 8, Connecticut stole by four, 96-92.
But even last year, though the two teams were configured differently, the Sun gave the Mystics a hard time.
On May 21, 2016 the Mystics won in overtime 84-76. And on June 14, 2016, the Mystics managed an epic Triple Overtime win, 109-106. That was the game that Meesseman hit 4-of-5 three pointers and Alex Bentley shot 3-of-6 for three.
When the Sun did beat the Mystics last season 87-78, on September 18, Jonquel Jones dropped 21 points and seven rebounds. Definitely foreshadowing.
What to look out for
Jonquel Jones is a scoring, rebounding machine, averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds. But she can easily go off for 15 plus rebounds and 20 or more points. She is a tough match-up for anyone in the association.
Both Jasmine and Alyssa Thomas are playing great this season, so Tierra Ruffin-Pratt is going to have her hands full trying to contain them.
Krystal Thomas has had double digit rebounds eight times this season, and she has been picking up a head of steam grabbing a total of FORTY, over the last three games. She has been within a stitch of a double-double in each of those three games, so I would definitely like to see her get over that hump in this game.
Krisit Toliver, Emma Meesseman, Elena Delle Donne and Ivory Latta seem to be getting into a groove that is a lot of fun to watch when it is clicking.
However, the team still seems to go pear shaped at some point during the game on defense, like riding on a flat for two miles, and that is not fun to watch at all.
The Mystics have lost four games with healthy leads and hopefully next year those kinks will have worked themselves out.
But I also very much hope that they can get their consistency together over the course of the next 12 games, because they will need it to get to the playoff semi-finals and win.