Preview: Can the Mystics bounce back?


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The Washington Mystics got off to a great start to the season, defeating the hyped-up New York Liberty 80-64 in D.C. They had been receiving some second-place votes in media power rankings even before that, and that win seem to legitimize those votes. People started to think, as perhaps they did again Thursday night when the Sparks jumped out to an early lead over the Aces, that maybe the WNBA is already more than a two-team race.

People probably haven’t started to consider the Sparks a contender; I’m merely saying that they made the Aces look vulnerable. But Mystics fans probably got very hopeful about their team’s title chances after they beat New York, because the Mystics could very well be that team. They have Elena Delle Donne, who came in third on our Top 30 player list and Ariel Atkins, who came in 18th. Plus, they have a bunch of underrated players in Natasha Cloud, Brittney Sykes, Shakira Austin and Myisha Hines-Allen.

It is still early though. The Mystics came back down to Earth in their next two games, both losses to the Connecticut Sun. They just couldn’t slow down Alyssa Thomas and fell to a fellow elite team.

Now the question is if the Mystics can bounce back and start to string together some wins under first-year head coach Eric Thibault. Thibault had one heck of a debut, beating the Liberty, but is for sure not satisfied with the current 1-2 record.

On Friday night, Washington takes on the 2-0 Chicago Sky. Chicago is a team the Mystics know they should beat based on preseason predictions, but also a team that has been impressive to start the season, so it would feel rewarding to beat the Sky and the Mystics need that feeling.

Kahleah Copper is the main Sky player who needs to be contained. She is averaging 17.5 points through two games and is 4-of-5 from three. Elizabeth Williams (12 points per game) and Alanna Smith (10.5 points per game) are the surprise second- and third-leading scorers for the Sky. The Mystics will also have their hands full with Courtney Williams and Marina Mabrey; Williams and Smith being hot too just complicates things.

Other action

Dallas Wings at Seattle Storm

The Wings got nearly all their scoring from three players in their season-opening win: Arike Ogunbowale (27 points), Satou Sabally (25) and Natasha Howard (20). They can’t expect those three to give them that level of production every night, so it will be important for others to step up against the Storm. However, it is still worth celebrating how well those three played — especially Sabally, who some had been questioning as overrated.

Seattle obviously had a rough go of it in its opener, losing to the Aces by 41. Everyone needs to be better for the Storm if they want to beat a very good Dallas team, even Jewell Loyd, who had 22 points against Vegas. Twenty-two points might not cut it for Loyd in some games this year; she needs to have some monster outings.

Game information

Washington Mystics (1-2) vs. Chicago Sky (2-0)

When: 8 p.m. ET

Where: Wintrust Arena in Chicago, IL

How to watch: ion

Mystics injury report: Myisha Hines-Allen (out; kneecap)

Sky injury report: Sika Kone (out; illness), Isabelle Harrison (out; knee), Ruthy Hebard (out; personal)

Dallas Wings (1-0) vs. Seattle Storm (0-1)

When: 10 p.m. ET

Where: Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, WA

How to watch: ion

Wings injury report: Teaira McCowan (game-time decision; knee), Diamond DeShields (out; knee), Lou Lopez Sénéchal (out; knee)

Storm injury report: Gabby Williams (out; concussion)

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