The Mystics (9-11) have lost two in a row since the All-Star Game and are now met with the challenge of facing L.A., Minnesota and Chicago all once and Atlanta three times over the course of their nine remaining games in the month of August.
Three of those six games against the only four winning teams in the WNBA are at the Verizon Center, where the Mystics are 6-4, including wins against the Lynx and Sky. Washington has shown that they are a force to be reckoned with in the league this year, but they will likely have to take care of business at home in the last two months of the season if they want to secure a spot in the postseason.
Protecting their home court in August begins on Sunday at 4 p.m. when the Sparks (12-7) come into the Verizon Center with MVP candidate Candace Parker who is questionable with a wrist injury that caused her to miss L.A.'s game at Tulsa on Friday. The Sparks lost that game, 96-89, but their struggles on the road go beyond whether or not Parker is playing. In fact, L.A. started the season 0-4 away from the Staples Center, before going 3-1 in their last four road games.
However, the Sparks are still one of the most dangerous teams in the league despite their road struggles and the Mystics are going have to play extremely well to defeat them.
Washington lost to L.A., 79-69, back on June 23 at Staples. Crystal Langhorne and Tayler Hill each had 16 points to lead the Mystics, while Lindsey Harding dropped a game-high 22 for the Sparks. Parker had 20, Nneka Ogwumike had 15 and Kristi Toliver had 12.
Ogwumike and Parker pretty much matched their current season averages in that game and Harding was well above hers, which leaves Toliver as the one who may be due for a much bigger game against the Mystics. Since June 23, she has had point totals of 29, 25 and 23 in regular play and a 21-point performance in the All-Star Game. When Kristi is on her game any shot is a good shot for her so Washington will have devote a lot of attention to her, which will be extremely difficult if Parker is also on the floor.
The Mystics could also use a big game from their rookies to help them secure the win. Hill will look to have another good performance against the Sparks. Her 16 points on June 23 still stands as her career high. The Mystics' bench was quiet in their last game at Chicago, but Emma Meesseman scored in double figures in the two games before that and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Nadirah McKenith have both had great moments this year as well.
The Mystics have shown that they can hang with any team in the league. Now they just have to get back to their winning ways at the Verizon Center on Sunday.