Nothing was more obvious in the Mystics’ win against Seattle than the fact that the team has truly banded together in its effort to make the playoffs.
Earlier this season, without All-Star Alana Beard, who sat out with the sprained left ankle she suffered Sunday against Minnesota, it’s a safe bet the Mystics would have struggled mightily against the Storm. Even without two-time MVP Lauren Jackson, Seattle still has two All-Stars including perennial MVP candidate Sue Bird. They are loaded.
But instead, the Mystics executed coach Julie Plank’s sound defensive strategy and got themselves enough easy looks to win this game.
“I think we’re playing together,” said Matee Ajavon, who shadowed Bird all evening. “Most of all, we want the Mystics to make the playoffs. It takes a different kind of focus, and I think everybody is tuned in right now.”
Plank has maintained all season that Washington’s best method of success would be maximizing their depth, and that’s just what has happened in posting back-to-back wins for the first time since mid-July.
In Sunday’s win against Minnesota, six Mystics players scored in double figures. Tonight, five did: Monique Currie (17), Ajavon (16, starting in place of Beard), Marissa Coleman (14, including 3-for-3 from behind the arc), Crystal Langhorne (12 and 11 rebounds) and Nakia Sanford (10).
“AB brings us a lot, and Julie reminded us, but I think everybody knew they had to give a little bit more to make up for her absence,” Currie said. “We knew that we could win without Alana, so we just all made an effort to step up and bring a little but more to the table.”
The Mystics now turn their attention to the Sky, who they play tomorrow night. At 15-15, the Mystics are currently in third place in the Eastern Conference. There’s only four games left, all against East teams, and the race is still wide open.
The Mystics can do themselves a huge favor with a win in Chicago tomorrow night, which would earn them the ever-valuable tiebreaker. Beard will again be a game-time decision tomorrow, and tonight’s win certainly has to help the team’s confidence if they have to play without her.
“I think we’re really jelling at the right time,” Currie said. “At the end of the day, everybody has to step up. It’s either you win or you go home. We want to keep playing. We don’t want our season to end at the end of the regular season, so everybody’s just doing what they can do to help us win.”