The Sideline Observer

Sports and Culture Commentary

It’s Official: Washington is a City of Contenders

After dominating the Los Angeles Sparks 96-64 in the single-elimination first round of the playoffs, the Washington Mystics earned their spot in the semifinals of the WNBA playoffs. The Mystics will face the Atlanta Dream in the five game series to determine who will play in the finals come early September.

Led by former MVP and 5x All-Star Elena Delle Donne, three-seed Washington continues to thrive. The superstar forward scored 20 points per game for the Mystics during the regular season, and backed that up with 19 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists in the elimination game. Six players scored in double digits for the Mystics including Delle Donne, and starting guards Kristi Toliver and Natasha Cloud combined for 16 assists.

It was a thorough domination for the Mystics, as an 11-point lead after the first quarter proved to be insurmountable.

The team will represent the nation’s capital in the semifinals for the second year in a row, coming off a devastating sweep by the Minnesota Lynx, who went on to win the 2017 WNBA Finals.

The Mystics and the Dream faced three times this season, with the Dream taking two of those matchups, but the Mystics won in their most recent matchup on July 31 in Atlanta.

Unfortunately for the Dream, they will continue to miss star Angel McCoughtry, who tore several ligaments in her knee just over two weeks ago. Guard Tiffany Hayes has shouldered much of the load, scoring 16 points per game this season and stepping up in a significant way in the past few weeks. Former MIP Elizabeth Williams will also be depended upon, and recent acquisitions Renee Montgomery and Alex Bentley have to step up if the Dream are to stand a chance.

It’s easy to believe in a hometown team, but I see the Mystics handling the Dream in four games or fewer. The pure domination and impressive efficiency displayed against the Sparks will have to continue, a feat that looks more and more probable with every win.

If the Mystics advance they will face the winner between the Seattle Storm and Phoenix Mercury with the chance to win a title for the first time in team history. Let’s hope the team can follow suit with the champion Capitals and Valor in what could be remembered as a summer of championships for D.C. sports.

-Michael

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