On Sunday afternoon, the Mystics and Storm won Game 1 of their semifinals series against the Dream and Mercury, respectively, to get an early advantage toward the WNBA Finals. Here’s how they did it.
Mystics draw early lead, hold on to beat Dream 87-84
The Mystics won the first game of their semifinals series against the Dream thanks to Elena Delle Donne, who led the way with 32 points. For the Dream, Alex Bentley led their scorers with 19 points off the bench. Here’s how Washington was able to draw first blood in the series.
Three point shooting and free throws - The Mystics shot just 38.9 percent from the field in the game. However, they shot 11-of-23 (42.3 percent) from the field and made all 20 of their free throw attempts to given themselves the win. Meanwhile, Atlanta only shot 6-of-21 (28.6 percent) from three and made 16-of-22 (72.7) free throws. Still, the Dream also shot 43.1 percent from the field. Usually teams that win the field goal percentage battle by over four points win the game by a considerable margin. But the Mystics made more of their long range shots while Atlanta didn’t which ended up being the difference maker here.
Delle Donne came up big throughout the contest - Delle Donne led all scorers, but she scored 11 of her 32 points in the fourth quarter. The last of her points came at the 2:32 mark when Washington had an 85-78 lead.
Rotations will be tight, perhaps to a fault - Team rotations often tighten up in the postseason. The Mystics and Dream played just eight and seven players respectively in the game. At some point, the Mystics and Dream will need to rely on more players to win games so it remains to be seen how tight rotations will be in Game 2.
Atlanta still has more than enough to win multiple games in this series - After Delle Donne’s last points, the Dream made a furious comeback and the Mystics made some errors that made it possible for the Dream to attempt a game tying three at the buzzer. Ultimately, the Mystics kept this game more interesting than it should have been. So despite the loss, the Dream shouldn’t feel any reason to panic.
Storm hold on to win, 91-87
This game felt somewhat like the Dream vs. Mystics game earlier. The Storm raced to a led in the middle of the game and ultimately won. However, the Mercury still had enough in the tank to make things interesting until the end. 2018 WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart scored 28 points and made six three-pointers in the game for the Storm while Jewell Loyd added 23 more points. For the Mercury, DeWanna Bonner scored 27 points while Diana Taurasi added 25 more.
Phoenix’s third quarter was costly - In the third quarter, the Mercury committed eight turnovers which turned into 13 Storm points. They also fouled the Storm seven times which gave Seattle plenty of opportunities at the free throw line where they made 10 of 11 in that period alone. The Storm was also able to race to a 16 point lead at one point which was ultimately too much to overcome.
Bird and Taurasi may be past their prime, but they continue to make an impact - The Storm’s and Mercury’s oldest franchise players may be past their prime, but they’re still more than capable of making big impacts. Taurasi didn’t just score 25 points: she also dished six assists and grabbed eight rebounds in the close loss, while becoming the WNBA’s all-time leading playoff scorer.
With her 8th point today, Diana Taurasi became the all-time leading scorer in #WNBAPlayoffs history, passing Tamika Catchings.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 26, 2018
She also moved into 2nd on the playoff assist list... also passing Catchings.
The 2nd half of #Mercury #Storm is coming up on ESPN2! pic.twitter.com/o7BeFUtvO8
Bird scored 10 points and dished 10 assists in Game 1. It just seems that Bird’s playmaking skills have improved as she enters the twilight of her career. Or is she?
Stewart and Loyd are the Storm’s new Dynamic Duo - In the 2000’s Bird and Lauren Jackson were known as Seattle’s franchise duo where they teamed up from many assists and two WNBA championships.
Bird is still playing really well in her late 30’s, but the Storm’s younger top draft picks: Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart, showed that they are Seattle’s foundation for years to come. Stewart got and stayed hot from the three point line all game.
MVP performance! @BreannaStewart posted a playoff career-high 28 PTS and went for a career-high 6-for-9 from three tonight— WNBA (@WNBA) August 27, 2018
Check out her best plays ahead of the @seattlestorm game 2 semifinal rematch against the @PhoenixMercury Tuesday! (10pm/ET on ESPN2) pic.twitter.com/5grRrrn5km
And Jewell Loyd didn’t just score 23 points. She also scored a clutch fadeaway midrange jump shots with just over one minute left when the Mercury looked to be in good position to steal one in Seattle.