The Mystics (8-9) have one game remaining before the first half of their 2013 season is effectively over. So far, they have defeated both of last year's Finals participants and have had records as good as 4-1 and 8-7. They are currently in playoff position, but have a losing record despite an exciting start that has had the entire WNBA talking.
For Washington, defeating Chicago (12-4) on Wednesday in D.C. would mean getting back to .500 and would essentially give them a clean slate in the second half. But getting back to .500 is not the main thing that is driving the Mystics. Because let's face it: win or lose on Wednesday they are still going to be in the mix for the last two playoff spots in the East and there is a long season to go for those to be decided. What the Mystics want is to become a team that treats every game like a must win.
"That's irrelevant to me, who we're battling," Thibault said on Sunday when asked how tough it was to drop two in a row to an Eastern Conference foe. The Mystics are now 2-5 against the East, including 0-1 against Chicago. "When I took this job, the big thing for me was to see improvement in this team as we went a long. And for the most part we have up until the last two games. But we've been schooled the last two games by a team who figured out last year how to win a championship. The standings right now to me are irrelevant compared to what we need to do just to be a better basketball team."
In that same press conference, Thibault also said: "Right now Indiana's better than us, because they understand as champions how hard you have to play every night to give yourselves a chance to win," hinting that the Mystics need to get to that point. And it is a reasonable expectation for a team that has competed with just about every team they've faced this year. It wouldn't be shocking to see them beat the Sky, even after a performance as poor as what they put on display on Sunday.
One thing the Mystics have going for them in particular is that they have been a good team at home this year. They had won three in a row at the Verizon Center before falling to the Fever on Sunday. Now they are hoping that being at home will make all the difference against a Sky team that they lost to by four on the road on July 10.
Chicago currently has the second longest winning streak in the league at five games. The Mystics have been their toughest challenge during that stretch. Elena Delle Donne has averaged 18.2 points and 1.8 blocks during the winning streak, Sylvia Fowles has averaged 16.3 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks and Epiphanny Prince has averaged 13.2 points and 3.8 assists.