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Analysis: Storm frontcourt dominated the Mystics to sweep the WNBA Finals

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Let’s take a closer look at how the Seattle Storm won Game 3 of the 2018 WNBA Finals against the Washington Mystics.

Seattle Storm’s frontcourt superstar Breanna Stewart (left) celebrates with her teammates after winning Game 3 of the 2018 WNBA Finals in a three-game sweep of the Washington Mystics.
Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post

The Seattle Storm defeated the Washington Mystics, 98-82, to win the 2018 WNBA Finals in a three-game sweep. Here’s how it went down.


The Seattle frontcourt was simply dominant!

Natasha Howard, Breanna Stewart and Alysha Clark were just amazing on Wednesday night. The frontcourt trio shot a combined 8-of-9 in the first half from three and were making hustle plays that the Mystics just weren’t.

Breanna Stewart won Finals MVP, scoring 30 points and grabbing eight rebounds tonight, but Natasha Howard provided the decisive boost they needed to win it all, scoring 29 points and grabbing 14 rebounds by scoring both from inside and outside.

And Alysha Clark cannot be left out of the conversation. She grabbed seven of her nine rebounds in the first half, including three on the offensive end. She also added 15 points and 4 assists.

The Mystics made improvements, but Seattle remained better

The Mystics managed to improve on a couple key areas that were lacking in their first two games against the Storm.

First, the Mystics had problems passing the ball. Washington only averaged 11.5 assists in the first two games of the WNBA Finals against Seattle. But tonight, they had five assists in the first quarter and 18 overall, which is a tad above their season average. There’s just one problem, though: Seattle had better ball movement, dishing 26 assists, led by Sue Bird’s 10.

The Mystics shot just 3-of-14 from three in Game 1 and failed to make a single three-point shot in Game 2. They managed to do better in Wednesday’s game, going 8-of-23. But again, the Storm were just better. They shot 13-of-26 from three.

The second quarter was Washington’s downfall

The Mystics put up a strong effort in the first half and were down 20-16 after the first 10 minutes, though things were already looking rather shaky. It was the second quarter that effectively “finished” the Mystics’ season.

Seattle held Washington to 26.3 percent shooting for the quarter and out-rebounded them 11 to 6. To add insult to injury, the Storm scored two points off the one Mystics turnover in that period. Howard in particular was nothing short of amazing, scoring 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting, grabbed 3 rebounds, and dishing an assist in that period.

Give the Mystics’ home crowd credit for staying in the game

The crowd was large and there were long lines to get in — something that we often don’t see in a Mystics game.

The arena was full! The fans were loud and cheered loudly from start until nearly the very end. And even though Washington was behind by a large margin, the crowd remained rowdy until the end.

The Mystics were able to make one last run in Game 3 in the fourth quarter when Elena Delle Donne led them on an early run to cut the lead to single digits. Washington’s run hit its peak after Tierra Ruffin-Pratt made a timely three to cut the lead to 72-67 with 6:49 left. However, the Storm made their counter punches with an 8-0 run within the next two minutes and maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.

The Storm may have a dynasty in the making, but the Mystics have nothing to be ashamed about

With a young core of Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd and Natasha Howard, plus their franchise leader Sue Bird, the Storm are now poised to dominate for years to come. They will be hard to stop in the next two or three years as this young core continues to mature together. Will the Storm be the first WNBA team to win back-to-back titles since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001 and 2002? That no one can guarantee. However, Seattle has the pieces to win a title in the next several seasons while their young core is still in their prime. The future is really bright in Seattle.

Meanwhile, the Mystics have had an amazing season. Few would have expected to see them make the semifinals this season after losing Emma Meesseman due to international commitments. And very few would have expect to see the Mystics make the Finals after Elena Delle Donne’s knee injury in Game 2 of the WNBA semifinals. However, this Mystics team played excellent basketball together this past summer, setting the standard for how future Mystics teams should approach the game.