After the Washington Mystics' 73-65 loss to the Seattle Storm Saturday, Mystics General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault said that the Storm "played with a little more desperation" in his press conference which can be viewed above through Monumental Network, or click here if you cannot see the embed.
The third quarter was the what made the difference in the game, as Seattle ultimately outscored Washington, 29-19, but as Kara Lawson implied and Monique Currie stated in a postgame video, Washington also lost this game in part because they were playing more half-court basketball than they would like, and the Mystics are looking to push the tempo more instead.
But the ultimate takeaway I got from the Mystics' loss was this: The Storm has a franchise player and a go-to scorer in Sue Bird. She delivered in the fourth quarter making two critical threes at points where the Mystics could have made the outcome of this game a bit more interesting. The Mystics on the other hand just don't have that player right now.
One of Bird's threes happened with 6:11 left when she was wide open on the left corner, to make the score 60-51 Seattle. The other three she made was along the left arc with 1:30 left to make the score 67-60 Seattle. Bird didn't have a particularly great shooting night. She only made 5-of-14 shots overall. But she made 2-of-5 shots as well as two more points from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. So she ended up with eight points in the fourth quarter, and 16 overall to lead all scorers.
The Washington Mystics are a young team that is still rebuilding its very foundation and most players on this team are rookies or sophomores. There will be games when "rookies play like rookies." There were things that I was frustrated with in the Seattle loss, such as the Mystics committing 16 turnovers, and allowing the Storm to dictate the tempo.
At the same time, the Mystics definitely showed how effective they can be on both ends on the floor in Friday's win over Indiana. When this season is over, the Mystics will get their fair share of wins - this won't be a season like 2011 or 2012.
But in the grand scheme of things, while we will see growing pains with a young roster, these games are just part of the team building and growing process. Therefore, I'm not worried about the Mystics long term with Mike Thibault as their head coach.