I have harped on the Washington Mystics for not being in prime position for home court advantage in the playoffs. They will be an underdog in most playoff series they are in because they will likely be the fifth or fourth seed in a couple weeks.
But there’s one league contender that they have figured out: the Las Vegas Aces. Tonight, they defeated them 83-73 at home and swept them for the regular season. The win puts Washington in fourth place for now and it ends the Aces’ four-game win streak.
The Mystics were trailing the Aces for most of the first half due to a cold offense (they only shot 31.6 percent in the first quarter). Washington got hot in the second quarter with Ariel Atkins scoring 7 of her 13 points in the period to help Washington finish the first half with a 41-39 deficit.
Washington started the third quarter on a 15-7 run and Rui Machida capped off another strong run to give Washington a 65-59 lead to end the fourth quarter. Though the Aces did tie the game at one point in the fourth quarter, Washington was in firm control, especially after a Natasha Cloud three with less than three minutes left which gave Washington a 77-68 lead. Cloud led Washington with 16 points and 9 assists. Shakira Austin added 15 points.
A’ja Wilson led the Aces with 22 points, and Las Vegas’ bench was held to just five points. The Aces also faced the Mystics’ league leading defense in full effect, where they only shot 33.3 percent for the entire second half. When Washington’s defense is on and offense is running well enough, good things happen like tonight!
It is also notable that the Mystics won this game without Elena Delle Donne playing at her best. Delle Donne only scored 5 points, but still grabbed 11 rebounds and dished 5 assists, where she looked a bit more like former Washington fan favorite Emma Meesseman out there when her shot wasn’t falling … in a good way of course!
Speaking about Meesseman, the Mystics will head on the road to play her current team, the Chicago Sky this Friday. Tip off is at 8 p.m. ET. I thought a loss to the Sky would be inevitable. But now, I’m getting more hyped about this playoff push!