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Mystics vs. Mercury preview: Washington goes for a critical Sunday win

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Washington Mystics v Phoenix Mercury Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Washington Mystics (14-10) host the Phoenix Mercury (13-11) on Sunday. Here’s what’s going down.

Game Info

Where and When: Sunday, August 6, 2017, 3 p.m. ET at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.

TV/Streaming: This game will be on CSN Mid Atlantic in the D.C. area, NBA TV nationwide, WNBA League Pass outside of the USA.

Injuries: The Mystics will be without Elena Delle Donne (thumb), Tayler Hill (knee), and Natasha Cloud (foot). The Mercury will be without Brittney Griner due to a left knee bone bruise and a right ankle sprain.

What to watch for

Can Washington slow down Diana Taurasi?

The Mercury’s point guard may be 35 years old, but she has hardly slowed down thanks to her durability. She is averaging a career high in three pointers made per game (3.3) since the three point line was moved back to FIBA length in 2013. In fact, Taurasi is actually making more three pointers per 36 minutes played in her career! Expect Tierra Ruffin-Pratt to play some major defensive minutes tomorrow against her. Sure, Taurasi is 35 years old. But she just scored 30 or more points in three of Phoenix’s last six games.

Can the Mystics focus on keeping the offense around Emma Meesseman and Kristi Toliver?

With Delle Donne out for the next month, we’ve seen Meesseman and Toliver step their games up a notch. In short, Toliver is hitting her stride from the three point line now and Meesseman is playing like the superstar we want — and need — her to be. I was disappointed that the Mystics didn’t keep their late game plays around these two taking the final shot in the Stars loss on Friday. If this game goes to the wire, they really should make a concerted effort for one of the two players to take a critical shot. That’s all I have to say on that.

Krystal Thomas is on a quiet, but noticeable rebounding tear

Thomas has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in each of the last five games. With Griner out of the picture Sunday, she’s in good position to extend that streak!

This is a critical matchup for the playoff standings

The Mercury is just one game behind the Mystics for fourth place in the East. It’s imperative that Washington keep a Top-4 seed so they can earn a first round bye in the playoffs.