The Minnesota Lynx have only lost three games this year. One was to the Washington Mystics.
That game was played back on June 8 and made the Mystics 3-1 at the time. It made the Lynx 2-1 and their only two losses since have been blow outs at the hands of the Sparks, a team generally considered the second best in the league behind Minnesota.
So the impressiveness of Washington's victory over the Lynx still stands. Before that game they had defeated Tulsa and Connecticut, but it was really the win over Minnesota that made people stop and say 'ok, this isn't just an early season fluke.'
Since then, the Mystics have spent the majority of the season in playoff position. But their loss to the Liberty on Tuesday knocked them out of fourth place in the East and therefore out of the current playoff picture. Ever since the All-Star break, the Mystics have seemed like the 2011 and 2012 versions of the franchise, having gone 0-4 after an impressive comeback victory over the Sky to close out the first half.
In their four losses since the break the Mystics have faced the 9-12 Liberty twice, Chicago without Elena Delle Donne and Los Angeles without Cadace Parker. Not that anything in the WNBA is a cakewalk, but Mystics fans have every right to feel like the team just missed a golden opportunity to at least be about where the Fever are right now (at .500 and a game and a half ahead of the fourth place team.) Because now comes the most difficult challenge of all: Minnesota at their place.
The Lynx are 10-0 at home this year, with an average margin of victory of 19 in those games. They are also currently on a 10-game winning streak overall. This is a team that had a league-high four All-Stars and has a fifth player in Monica Wright who has played extremely well at times. Maya Moore is arguably one of the top five players in the league and is in the top 10 in scoring with 16.9 points per game. Meanwhile Lindsay Whalen - known as a distributor - is averaging a career high in points right now with 16.1.
The Lynx are going to be just as motivated to win Thursday night's game against the Mystics as they have been to win any other contest over the course of their 17-3 season, if not more. In addition to getting revenge for the Mystics' five point win at the Verizon Center when the two teams last met, the Lynx are still pursuing a franchise-record for consecutive wins.
The formula for the Mystics in the June 8th game was getting offense from Ivory Latta and Monique Currie and holding Minnesota's non-All-Stars to a combined six points. Washington is certainly capable of winning again, but right now it's hard to pick anybody over the team that is on track to have the best regular season record in the WNBA for the third straight year.
And as good as Minnesota is, they don't hand out trophies for going 2-0 against them in a season. But the Mystics hope that doing so will provide the spark they need to get their season back on track.