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Analysis: The Mystics improve, but it still wasn’t enough in Game 2 against the Storm

The Mystics played much better in Game 2 against the Storm but were unable to sneak out with a victory on Sunday.

WNBA: Finals-Washington Mystics at Seattle Storm Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Storm defeated the Washington Mystics 75-73 in an exciting game on Sunday afternoon. If you’re a Storm fan, you’re giddy: Seattle is now just 40 minutes away from their third WNBA championship, and arguably a year ahead of schedule in their rebuild timeline.

If you’re a Mystics fan, you are reassured that Game 1 was an aberration — but you also wished this performance would have been the one they had in Game 1.

Let’s get to the things that made this game the way it was.

The Mystics had very bad luck shooting the ball from three

The Mystics are a very good three-point shooting team, making the third-most in the league during the regular season. Unfortunately, they managed to shoot 0-of-16 from behind the arc. That’s an anomaly to say the least.

The Mystics’ stronger defense in Game 2 held the Storm to 6 of 23 shooting from the three point line. That’s excellent defense by any metric, except when the Mystics couldn’t make a three themselves.

Breanna Stewart asserts why she’s MVP with strong start

It’s true that in basketball, a team has to finish strong. At the same time, teams also need to start strong. Stewart scored 11 points in the first period for Seattle. The Mystics certainly made things more interesting later on, but her strong start is why Seattle is heading into Washington with a 2-0 lead instead of an even 1-1 tie.

Yes, Stewart missed two free throws in the closing minutes and that COULD have made this game’s outcome go the other way. However, Stewart has now scored 22 or more points in all but one game in the 2018 WNBA Playoffs.

Assuming that the Storm win the WNBA title this season, Stewart is likely winning the Finals MVP.

Elena Delle Donne gets closer to form after playing with a knee sleeve

Since Delle Donne came back from a scary knee injury in Game 2 of the semifinals, she has played with a knee brace — and for good reason. Delle Donne hyperextended her knee and needed to make sure that that didn’t happen again to the best extent she could.

In Game 2, Delle Donne just wore a sleeve on her left knee. Wearing a sleeve instead of a full brace helped her mobility as she scored 17 points to lead all Washington scorers, especially in the first half when she scored 10 points.

Kristi Toliver kept things interesting to the end

The Mystics point guard has hot games that make you want to scream “M-V-P!” and cold games that make you wonder why she had a bad day. Today, Toliver had a good game, three-point shooting aside. She even kept things interesting by making two clutch baskets in the last 90 seconds of the game. If she can have another game like this on Wednesday along with some threes, then the Mystics should be in good shape to win in Game 3.

What do the Mystics need to do to keep their season alive?

  1. Make three pointers - The Mystics just had bad luck shooting from three tonight so this should take care of itself. Still, they shouldn’t be careless about this.
  2. Let Natasha Cloud handle the ball more - The Mystics’ backcourt is unconventional since Kristi Toliver is the team’s starting point guard and Natasha Cloud is the shooting guard. Or is it? Anyway, Cloud has better point guard tendencies than Toliver, who didn’t perofmr during a critical possession for Washington last night.
  3. Keep playing like they did in Game 2 - The Mystics certainly left a lot of room to be desired in Game 2. However the defense and Delle Donne’s performance showed that Washington wasn’t going to be eliminated in the playoffs very easily.

What should the Storm do to leave Washington as WNBA champions?

  1. Don’t get complacent - The Storm lost two games in a row on the road in the WNBA semifinals against the Phoenix Mercury. Yes, they won the series, but it was also partly because they played all their win games at home. Sometimes, homecourt advantage goes down to which team has more home games, but the Storm shouldn’t be that way.
  2. Keep feeding the ball to Stewart and Natasha Howard - Delle Donne isn’t the only injured Mystics player. LaToya Sanders is also dealing with injuries stemming from a broken knuckle on her shooting hand. These injuries have certainly played a factor since Seattle’s younger frontcourt is getting the job done.