1. Chicago Sky (12-4) at Washington Mystics (8-9), 11:30 AM ET
NBA TV has this game on TV nationally. If you're in the DC area, you can't turn on NBA TV because it will be blacked out. You must log onto Monumental Network.
DC tries to wipe off a pathetic Sunday performance today. The only issue is that this Chicago team is the #1 team in the East, so a W is by no means a given. The Mystics just haven't been beating the top teams at a good clip though they have beaten the bottom teams at a good clip. That makes them mediocre which is great considering last year, but is that the long term goal or the long term baseline?
2. Phoenix Mercury (9-8) at Minnesota Lynx (13-3), 1:00 PM ET
This is the Game of the Day, as the Mercury tries to stay above .500 with a win and avoid getting swept by the two time defending Western Conference champions. The Lynx with a win today will still be well on track toward a possible third straight 25 win season, even with the Conference being tougher than in the last two seasons.
Unfortunately with Diana Taurasi having to serve a one game suspension due to getting too many technical fouls, and it's just the first half of the season, we may very well see the Mercury get swept since Brittney Griner and Lynetta Kizer will also likely be sitting out.
3. Connecticut Sun (4-11) at Atlanta Dream (10-5), 7:00 PM ET
The Dream returns back home after a road trip that culminated with four straight losses and also cost the team the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Fortunately, this game is at home where the Dream is 7-0 for the season.
My thoughts on the Washington Mystics' All-Stars
Considering that the Washington Mystics are doing much better in the standings than anticipated and are in playoff position, it is no surprise to me that there are two All-Stars with Ivory Latta and Crystal Langhorne named as reserves.
There was no doubt in my mind that Latta deserved to be an All-Star and the voters certainly agreed with that as she was third in the official voting. In addition, without Latta, I will reiterate for the umpteenth time that this Mystics team is much more likely to be living up to its preseason spot of 6th in the East. She is the best move that Mike Thibault has made to keep this team competitive right away. I know she's a veteran player and I'm a strong advocate on a rookie dominated roster on a rebuilding team. However, rebuilding teams need a veteran in the core group for the next several years, and Latta has been that piece for this team.
As for Crystal Langhorne, some of you have pointed out in our Open Thread yesterday, that she doesn't deserve a spot. While I am happy as a fan that she's on the team, and it's in large part because she has maintained her consistent level of play as the team's best post player, I also agree that Erika de Souza deserved to be on the roster instead.
First, if you look at them on a statistical basis, de Souza is averaging 11.5 points, 9 rebounds, .9 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.9 blocks in 27.6 minutes a game over 15 games. Langhorne is averaging 12.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.2 blocks in 28.9 minutes a game over 17 games, While Lang leads in scoring and assists among the two, de Souza leads everywhere else. Also, the Dream is 10-5 right now, and beat the 8-9 Mystics in both of their head to head matches. This reason alone is why I believe that she is more deserving of an All-Star bid, even if this results in three players who are traditionally centers in the reserves. de Souza had more production than Langhorne nearly all around, and her team is doing better. I guess I'm falling in love with Nate's "numbers" but the numbers do indicate that de Souza has a better resume than Langhorne did.
Also a couple weeks ago, when I put my own picks on the All-Star teams, I put Matee Ajavon in as a reserve guard. I knew that statistically, Allison Hightower was the better choice and she indeed was named a reserve yesterday. At the time, I did not want to give an All-Star bid to multiple players on the worst team in the standings which is exactly what we saw this year. Considering that Ajavon has played a major part in several of the Mystics' wins and has considerably improved her play from 2012, that's why I gave her a nod over Hightower, and I also didn't count Hightower as a snub, in large part because the Sun's record was quite bad. The other guards who I could have picked were Armintie Herrington or Jasmine Thomas of Atlanta, but I don't think they were the major driving force behind the Dream's earlier success like the frontcourt players were. Lastly, it is baffling to me to see that 2nd place Atlanta has only one All-Star in Angel McCoughtry while the last place Sun has two.
And going back to Connecticut, Tina Charles did get a reserve bid in my lineup despite playing on the East's worst team because she has continued to play at a high level individually, and at center, it's not as easy to make others around her better like we would see with guards.
I will give my midseason evaluations on the teams and some updated best and worst case scenarios (barring injury) in the next few days. I'll separate them by conference.
That's all I have for now. Enjoy today's games.