Many of you, myself included were optimistic about the Washington Mystics this season. We were hoping to see Tina Charles hit the ground running, Ariel Atkins take another step toward being an All-Star, Myisha Hines-Allen take another step forward with her game and see Elena Delle Donne return for much of the season.
While Charles and Atkins have played as well as we could have hoped (despite yesterday’s loss to the Phoenix Mercury), the reality is that the rest of the team hasn’t been up to par, whether it’s because of a down year, injuries or maybe even both.
Hines-Allen has been playing well when healthy, but she suffered a knee injury which caused her to miss games. Natasha Cloud’s shooting has been inconsistent for long stretches during the season. And Elena Delle Donne has yet to return from her back injury, but her return this year should be considered a bonus at this point.
The bottom line is that the Mystics are 8-13 and 10th in the WNBA standings and it’s going to be difficult to see them making any significant run in the playoffs. And I’ll say it out loud: the Mystics could end up in the lottery given how their post-Olympic run has started.
Washington started off their first three games of the post-Olympic break schedule with three consecutive losses. Sure, the Las Vegas Aces are tied for No. 1 in the standings and the Mercury are No. 5 while Washington was on the road. And if you want to be optimistic, the Mystics were in good position to win all three of these games given that they had a first half lead in all of them.
But my point still stands. They lost three consecutive games to start the post-Olympic break. They began last week just one game behind the Chicago Sky for the No. 5 seed while being at No. 8. Now, they’re one game behind Dallas just to be No. 8. And in less than a week, the Mystics are now 3.5 games behind the Mercury who hold that No. 5 seed.
When will Washington get a chance to right the ship? Hopefully, it starts on Sunday for the beginning of a five-game homestand. But Washington is playing the Seattle Storm who are at No. 3, and just one game behind the Aces and Sun for that No. 1 spot. That’s another probable loss based on the Odds. After that, they will play the Los Angeles Sparks and Dallas Wings for two straight games at ESA. Their homestand then concludes with a match against the Sun on Tuesday, Aug. 31.
Games are meant to be played on the court and not on paper or the sportsbook at Capital One Arena, of course. But given where the Mystics are, they have to start pulling off some wins, even against those at the top of the standings, to keep their playoff hopes alive.