Because the playoff image develops, the Mystics maintain their surge going


Myisha Hines-Allen took a beat to contemplate the query earlier than fastidiously selecting her phrases. Then she adjusted them anyway.

Her Washington Mystics have simply eight video games remaining after their 78-69 win over the New York Liberty on Thursday afternoon at Capital One Area. After notching six wins of their previous eight video games, the Mystics are in fifth place at 17-11 — one sport behind the Seattle Storm and the Connecticut Solar and two behind the second-place Las Vegas Aces, who performed late Thursday.

The tendency at this level of the season is to begin paying nearer consideration to all of that. After Thursday’s win, Hines-Allen couldn’t disagree.

“I have a look at when groups win or lose,” she mentioned. “However for essentially the most half, I don’t suppose I’m like, ‘Oh, I hope this workforce loses.’ … Effectively, I do. Okay. I do have a look at the standings. Yeah, I do have a look at it.”

That’s the push and pull that many gamers and coaches really feel this time of 12 months. The politically appropriate reply is to say groups deal with themselves and take it one sport at a time, however that’s hardly ever the complete fact. Most gamers know precisely the place they stand all through the season, and that solely intensifies as playoff eventualities turn into clearer. The league-leading Chicago Sky turned the primary workforce to clinch a playoff spot Wednesday.

“I believe I take note of the standings all 12 months,” Mystics Coach Mike Thibault mentioned. “… I in all probability listen in a way extra on, ‘Is there a few groups we are able to catch right here relying on the way it goes?’ However I attempt to not do it an excessive amount of simply because I’ve informed the workforce all alongside, ‘Play the subsequent sport, and let that maintain it.’ ”

Last time out: Mystics lean on their defense for a bounce-back win over the Lynx

The WNBA has a brand new postseason format for the eight groups that make the reduce this summer season: Single-elimination matchups and byes are out. All eight groups will play best-of-three first-round sequence — No. 1 vs. No. Eight, No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. three vs. No. 6, and No. four vs. No. 5 — with the upper seed internet hosting the primary two video games. It shifts to best-of-five for the ultimate two rounds.

The Mystics would journey to tackle the Storm if the playoffs began at this time, however there’s loads of time for that to alter. Washington hosts the Storm for back-to-back video games subsequent weekend, adopted by a go to from the Aces and a sport on the Sky.

Elena Delle Donne and Ariel Atkins mentioned they’re not listening to all that simply but.

“I haven’t even appeared,” mentioned Delle Donne, who had a game-high 25 factors. “My solely focus is the subsequent sport and profitable it. And if we are able to management that, then standings will probably be no matter they’re.”

“This league is loopy, and also you simply by no means actually know,” mentioned Atkins, who added 16 factors and 6 rebounds. “So I don’t need to put something in my head.”

Right here’s what else to know concerning the Mystics’ win:

The Liberty received the groups’ first two conferences, however the Mystics bounced again from a sluggish begin and by no means trailed after halftime. New York scored the primary 12 factors, however Washington closed the primary quarter on a 16-Eight run. The Mystics have been robust defensively many of the day; they allowed simply 11 factors within the third quarter and compelled 16 turnovers for the sport.

“Not a lot of a dialog — like, ‘Calm the hell down,’ ” Thibault mentioned of the timeout after the Liberty’s early run. “… After we got here to the timeout, we have been calm. Not less than the gamers have been fairly calm — I wasn’t essentially, strolling into the huddle. The advantage of this workforce is that we’re fairly resilient about that.”

Delle Donne, Atkins and Hines-Allen (13 factors, eight rebounds) did many of the heavy lifting offensively. Delle Donne has scored a minimum of 19 factors in her previous 5 video games — and has a minimum of 25 in three of these.

“I felt like within the second half it was nearly like taking turns, like, ‘You go; I’ll go,’ ” she mentioned. “Whoever had the mismatch, we have been simply attempting to assault it.”

Hines-Allen laughed and added: “Simply realizing that you simply’re enjoying with an MVP, generally you simply need to get out of her method.

Natasha Howard led the 11th-place Liberty (9-17) with 17 factors and 10 rebounds. New York has misplaced 5 in a row.

Washington’s subsequent sport is Thursday at Dallas.

On Wednesday, the Convey Our Households Dwelling Marketing campaign unveiled a mural in Georgetown that includes WNBA star Brittney Griner and different People detained overseas. Liberty Coach Sandy Brondello was available for the ceremony.

“BG is somebody that, clearly, I really like dearly, and it’s an unlucky state of affairs that she’s in,” mentioned Brondello, who coached Griner with the Phoenix Mercury. “I hope that we are able to get her house quickly. However to fulfill a few of the households, that was truly fairly touching, to appreciate so many different tales. BG has put it within the forefront about all these different individuals which can be wrongfully detained abroad. … We’ve obtained to place their names on the market just a little bit extra.”

The more Elena Delle Donne plays, the better the Mystics’ offense looks

For Camp Day, the Mystics performed of their outdated house for the primary time since 2019. The stands have been full of kids holding Thundersticks and sporting matching T-shirts.

I believe one of many largest causes we do that is to introduce your workforce and what you do to an entire new group of potential followers,” Thibault mentioned. “You hope bunch of them go house and beg their dad and mom to take them again. Watch extra video games on TV, see function fashions. … And it’s not simply the younger ladies — it’s the younger boys seeing function mannequin ladies athletes that they’ll respect.”

Thursday’s sport was the start of a partnership between Monumental Sports activities and Leisure and HeadCount to encourage voting. Stations allowed individuals to register, and that can proceed at Capitals, Wizards and Mystics video games.

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