The Mystics steamrolled the Los Angeles Sparks 81-52 on Tuesday night. After a rough two-game losing streak, D.C. looked to be back on track. But the last mini-losing streak before the beatdown in LA were just not a skid, it was a collapse. While this year is still young, what happened in their losses so far that could carry over to the rest of the season?
When the Mystics played the Sun for their season opener, they missed Elena Delle Donne and LaToya Sanders in their lineup. Consequently, the Mystics received a 84-69 blowout at Mohegan Sun. Despite a late attempt at a comeback, the Sun pulled away and kept the Mystics at bay. Even in that loss, Emma Meesseman, in her first game back in the WNBA, put up 14 points. Additionally, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Toliver put up a combined 21 points. Toliver ended up exiting the game with a lower leg injury, further cementing the loss for the Mystics. The biggest problem in that game was the fact that the leading scorer in Elena Delle Donne, post presence in Latoya Sanders, and perimeter presence in Kristi Toliver all did not play the entire game.
Delle Donne and Sanders return in the lineup as they faced the Dream and won 96-75 in a complete team effort. Washington looked like the contenders that could win a championship. The complete team would then go on a four-game winning streak. After each game, the D.C. hype train got more steam.
The Mystics then faced another road rematch with the Sun and a re-creation of the WNBA finals rematch with the Seattle Storm. The same results happened. In the Connecticut game, the Mystics led at halftime, but lost 83-75. Lack of defense and bad shot attempts resulted in the loss. Although points were fairly distributed in this game, guard Kristi Toliver only had four points in the entire game. Tolliver is a huge game changer and as consistent 3-point shooter as exists in the league, so getting just 4 points from her really hurt the team’s chances.
In the Storm matchup, the Mystics would be up 11 after the third quarter against the Storm. Through the first three quarters, the Mystics played great but failed to put Seattle away. Then in the fourth, D.C’s offense went silent. They only put up eight points to Seattle’s 22 points en route to a 74-71 crushing loss. It was a complete collapse by the Mystics in a game they should have won.
The Mystics’ 4th quarter woes stood out in the 2-game collapse. In years past, they would have 3rd quarter woes and it would be hard sometimes to comeback in the fourth quarter. But in those last two games, they completely collapse after having a healthy lead to start the 4th quarter. Sure, having Meesseman would have helped, and not having Kristi Toliver against Seattle after she got two techs in the first 9 minutes hurt them. But the Mystics should have won both of these games. Lack of effort and execution in the fourth quarter led to the losses that the Mystics have had this season so far.
It is also worth noting that Delle Donne has not been on a 20+ point tear this season either. In the Mystics’ win against the Sparks, Delle Donne only scored nine points in the win. Seeing how she has not been scoring as much as expected shows that the team is equal in distributing the ball. The biggest thing for the Mystics for the rest of the season is to stay consistent in the fourth quarter.
They have the pieces to close out games and even, go up double digits on any given night. When Meesseeman and Kim Mestdagh return, it would be a complete team again. But after the Mystics can hone in how to right the wrongs, they will go back to looking like the team to win a championship despite the losses.