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Preview: Storm go for WNBA Finals sweep as Mystics host Game 3

The Mystics have one last chance to assert themselves against the powerful Storm, or else the series — and the 2018 WNBA season — will end tonight.

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Ariel Atkins (L) has been a key player for the Mystics during the Finals as they try to pull off a Game 3 victory to keep the series alive. The rookie scored a game-high 23 points in Game 1 and added 15 points in Game 2.
Photo by Scott Eklund/NBAE via Getty Images

Will the Storm pull off the sweep this time, or will the Mystics be able to notch a victory to keep the Finals going? Here’s how to watch and find out.

No. 1 Seattle Storm (26-8) vs. No. 3 Washington Mystics (22-12)

The Storm lead the best-of-five series, 2-0.

When: Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. ET

Where: EagleBank Arena (Fairfax, VA) | TICKETS

How to watch: ESPN2

Injuries: Nothing new to report.

Storylines to follow

The Mystics have reason to feel positive heading into Wednesday night’s Game 3. Not just because they really needed the time off, and not even because they get to play in front of a home crowd (albeit in Virginia), but because they know exactly what happened last time the Storm went on the road with a 2-0 series lead.

This series is progressing rather similarly to the Storm-Mercury semifinals series: The Storm handily won the Game 1, then had to fight hard for the Game 2 win. It’s not even that the Mercury and Mystics are extremely similar teams. But if the Storm are consistent in one thing, it’s lulling their fans into a false sense of security, knowing they’re the better team, but never quite proving it on a regular basis.

Part of this is due to the Mystics’ surprise third scorer in the form of Ariel Atkins (which, to be fair, is likely not a surprise to Mystics fans, but her production this postseason has been transcendent). Atkins had 23 points to tie Seattle’s Jewell Loyd for high scorer in Game 1 and she put up another double-digit performance in Game 2, scoring 15 points. With Elena Delle Donne’s injury keeping her from playing at her best and Kristi Toliver still rather inconsistent, Atkins has been keeping the Mystics alive — or at least spirited — in spite of their losses.

That said, having just faced a situation like this, the Storm seem more ready this time to grind out a third victory (which they failed to do in the semifinals against the Mercury, who won Games 3 and 4, to force a decisive Game 5).

In these teams’ August 9 regular-season meeting, the only one the Mystics won this season (and the only one they hosted), two keys to the win were Delle Donne’s 30 points — a mark she doesn’t seem to be able to hit right now with her injury — and Breanna Stewart being held to just 10 points.

But the way these players and these teams are looking now, it seems like all the Storm need to do is improve on their Game 2 performance in the form of a solid third scorer (Natasha Howard, perhaps) and they can wrap up this series in sweeping fashion. This isn’t to say that the Mystics can’t pull out a Finals victory, but it’s going to be much more of a challenge for them to stay competitive and win three straight games than it should be for the Storm to make the minor adjustments they need to make to take home the title.