It started with acquiring a generational talent. Then, a push for a championship gave the team a taste at what they were capable of achieving. A slogan arose from the ashes of a championship loss: “Run it Back.” That slogan guided them throughout a dominant season that took no prisoners.
And that's how the Mystics story will go. For the first time in their history, the Washington Mystics are WNBA champions.
Their quest for a title was not all smooth sailing, although the most efficient offense in WNBA history made it look like it at times. Three separate injuries hindered their superstar Elena Delle Donne. A jammed left knee (the same knee that suffered a brutal-looking fall in 2018), breaking her nose in the middle of the year, and a herniated disc in her back during the WNBA Finals all provided setbacks for the WNBA MVP.
Former All-Star Emma Meesseman missed 11 games to play for the Belgian National Team, nearly a third of the season. Every Mystic had deemed her the "missing piece" from the 2018 runner-up squad. A Delle Donne-esque player that has the lethal ability to take over contests. She missed all of 2018, she missed a huge chunk of the beginning of the season.
Veteran point guard Kristi Toliver was sidelined for the final month of the season. Natasha Cloud was essentially the only true point guard in the rotation for 10 games.
You wouldn’t know it based on the Mystics relentless supremacy throughout the season. There were a WNBA-record 13 victories by 20 points or more and eight victories by at least 25 points (another record). An average win margin of 19.5 points had Washington coasting to a franchise-best 26-8 record.
And 19.5 doesn't even begin to tell the tale. They throttled the No. 2 team, the Connecticut Sun by 43 points, beat the Las Vegas Aces by 29.
Through the injuries, Delle Donne averaged 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds. She became a member of the elite 50-40-90 club, the first WNBA player to do so. Unsurprisingly, she won the WNBA MVP.
Without their Belgian forward, Washington went 7-4.
Toliver, one of the best 3-point shooters in the WNBA’s history, was sidelined and the Mystics broke the record for most 3-pointers made in a game.
All 18 of our record breaking threes!! pic.twitter.com/GqE21n9XSe— Washington Mystics (@WashMystics) August 18, 2019
No obstacle could stand in the team’s way.
That energy carried into the postseason as the No. 1 seed. Aside from a Liz Cambage-led Aces Game 3, the WNBA Semifinals was dominated by Washington. Dominated by Meesseman.
In the Finals, Delle Donne’s back could have slowed them down. It didn’t. And it certainly didn’t slow down Delle Donne from claiming her first title.
Washington was built to win a championship, from Delle Donne on down. They have the best player in the league. Their starting five has no weak spot, littered with future All-Stars. Washington’s bench could all be starters elsewhere in the league. Instead, they stayed together and knew what this roster could accomplish.
For this season, the only thing that was on the minds of players was to ‘Run it Back.’ Nothing could stand in their way of achieving that goal. From Day 1 and for every subsequent day, that foresight was never lost. All their cards were on the table, Mike Thibault and his staff were not afraid to show it.
Even facing a winner-take-all Game 5, Natasha Cloud had no doubt and guaranteed a championship.
She's right. Straight facts.
The Mystics ran it back for their first WNBA championship.
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