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Analysis: How the Mystics and Mercury forced Game 5 in their semifinals series

The Mystics and Mercury won Game 4 of their semifinals series to keep their seasons alive. Here are some takeaways from their games.

Brittney Griner and DeWanna Bonner are all smiles now that the Phoenix Mercury have forced a Game 5 in their WNBA semifinals series.
NBAE/Getty Images

Let’s check out how the Mystics and Mercury won their Game 5s. By winning their semifinals games on Sunday, both WNBA series will be stretched to the max! Here are three takeaways from each of Sunday’s wins!

3 takeaways from the Mystics’ 97-76 win over the Dream

With the notable exceptions of Aerial Powers and Ariel Atkins, the Mystics played a bit too tentatively in Game 3 against the Dream and ultimately lost when Tiffany Hayes got hot. Part of the reason why the Mystics lost was because they were without Elena Delle Donne, who sat the game out due to a left knee bone bruise. But Delle Donne was back in Game 4.

Kristi Toliver played in top form once again

Toliver led the Mystics’ scorers with 22 points and made four three-pointers. Toliver is one of the best clutch scorers in the WNBA and can put up 30 or more points any night. But there are times when she struggles, like in Game 2 — when her shot was off and she was visibly frustrated all game. Today, however, we saw the Toliver that Washington needs for the rest of the WNBA Playoffs.

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt is quietly becoming a dependable scorer

There are many players in the WNBA or NBA who are great scorers but cannot contribute in other areas, like passing, rebounding and defense. Ruffin-Pratt has the exact opposite issue. She’s a good passer, rebounder and defender, but she has never been an effective scorer when her number is called. But in the last three games, TRP is becoming more dependable, with plays like this:

On Sunday, TRP scored 11 points, shooting 5-of-8 from the field. Also, in each of the Mystics’ last three games, TRP scored at least seven points or more.

The Dream played a very balanced game

Six Dream players scored in double figures, and multiple players tied for a game-high 12 points. Despite the loss, the Dream didn’t look terrible. The Mystics just had a more efficient day, especially from the three-point line.

3 takeaways from the Mercury’s 86-84 win over the Storm

For a while, many were expecting that the Storm would probably get to the Finals rather comfortably. In the first half, that seemed to be the case, at least. But the Mercury had enough left in the tank to keep things interesting and force Game 5, with an 86-84 win. Yes, the game had an exciting finish but, no, it wasn’t a close contest all around.


The Mercury were down by 17 points in the first half and down by double digits for most of the third quarter. Usually, in a game like this, the winning team can just sleepwalk past the finish line and into the WNBA Finals.

But the Mercury held the Storm to just 29 percent shooting in the third quarter, which helped them turn the game around. And, with 14 seconds left, Brittney Griner made the winning shot.

Griner had the biggest game of her 2018 season by scoring 29 points and grabbing 12 rebounds while DeWanna Bonner added 27 points. Phoenix needed both Griner AND Bonner to play ALL 40 MINUTES to send this series to Game 5, which leads to the next point ...

Neither team played the bench much at all, but they probably should in Game 5

Rotations tighten in the playoffs, but there are often a couple reserves who can be counted on for consistent scoring. Seattle’s reserves scored a total of 17 points, nine of which came from Jordin Canada who played in Sue Bird’s place after she left the game due to injury. If Bird wasn’t injured, Canada would have seen a lot less time.

But for the Mercury, what’s even more remarkable is that only two reserves players: Leilani Mitchell and Camille Little. Little was the only reserve to score at all. As entertaining as the Mercury have made this series, they look vulnerable if and when the Diana Taurasi/Griner/DeWanna Bonner Trio isn’t firing on all cylinders.

Sue Bird will forever be linked with broken noses!

Bird broke her nose in the first half because of an elbow from teammate, Breanna Stewart, and had to leave the game because it was bleeding. This was the fifth broken nose of her career.

Even though Bird couldn’t play due to the broken beak, she did pick up a clipboard. Is there a future Coach Bird on the horizon?