The Washington Mystics are similar to the Seattle Storm in that they are both defensive-minded, interior teams. Photo by Kailas Images.
Before the Western Conference Finals series, Seattle Storm coach Brian Agler said he would scout film of the Phoenix Mercury playing teams similar to them since they had a) not played much against the Mercury with center Kara Braxton, acquired in a late-season trade and b) played the final game with both teams resting players.
He'll do something similar as he prepares for the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA Finals, this time using the Dream's first round opponent as the case study.
"Washington a little bit -- Washingon, they're sort of like us in a lot of way," said Agler. "So we'll watch the playoff games."
Not that the Mystics are at all as dominant as the Storm, but there was a bit of similarity in their regular season performance worth noting.
Indeed Seattle and Washington are similar in key ways: they were first and second respectively during the regular season in rebounding percentage and as a result, Seattle was third in second chance points behind Washington and first place Atlanta. Seattle was also third and Washington fourth in points in the paint. So given that they are both strong interior opponents -- the biggest strength for both is their offensive rebounding -- as well as two of the top three defensive teams in the league behind Indiana. So the Washington series would be helpful for scouting purposes. However, the similarities end there.
The huge difference for an Atlanta team that likes to play transition basketball is that the Storm were first in the league in fast break defense to Washington's sixth and sixth in the league in fast break offense while Washington was dead last. Seattle was also first in the league in denying points of turnovers whereas Washington was 11th. So while Washington was the best in the league in preventing opponents' second chance points, Seattle was the best in defending transition baskets. That's not even to mention the fact that Seattle was the much more efficient offensive team this season.
For more on the Storm's WNBA FInals preparations: Seattle Storm Title Chase: Things Have 'Changed A Lot' Since Regular Season Series With The Dream