For the first time in franchise history, the Washington Mystics are in the WNBA Finals.
Behind Elena Delle Donne, Kristi Toliver, and Ariel Atkins, Washington is flying high in the postseason. After defeating the Los Angeles Sparks in a one-game second-round playoff, the Mystics defeated the Atlanta Dream 3-2 in a best of five WNBA semifinal series.
Their opponent is the league-best Seattle Storm, who are looking for their third championship in 15 seasons. Led by the legend Sue Bird and 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart, they continue to show why Seattle has been the team to beat all season.
2018 WNBA Finals: Mystics vs. Storm Preview
Mystics vs. Storm Schedule:
Game 1: Friday, Sept. 7 at Seattle (Key Arena). 9:00 pm ET. ESPNews
Game 2: Sunday, Sept. 9 at Seattle (Key Arena). 3:30 pm ET. ABC
Game 3: Wednesday, Sept. 12 at Washington (EagleBank Arena). 8:00 pm ET. ESPN2
Game 4 (if necessary): Friday, Sept. 14 at Washington (EagleBank Arena). 8:00 pm ET. ESPN2
Game 5 (if necessary): Sunday, Sept. 16 at Seattle (Key Arena). 8:00 pm ET. ESPN2
Mystics vs. Storm Season History:
Seattle Storm: 26-8 overall (No. 1 seed). 13-4 at home. 13-4 on the road
Washington Mystics: 22-12 overall (No. 3 seed). 12-5 at home. 10-7 on the road
Seattle won the season series 2-1
May 29: Storm 81, Mystics 77 in Seattle
July 8: Storm 97, Mystics 91 in Seattle
August 9: Mystics 100, Storm 77 in Washington
Mystics vs. Storm Players to Watch:
Head Coach: Mike Thibault
1. Elena Delle Donne, F, 6-5 (21.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 3.6 apg): As the team's leader in scoring and rebounding, the heartbeat of this squad is Delle Donne. Unfortunately, she is not at full strength after going down in Game 2 with a bone bruise. Since her return, she is averaging 14.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg in two games.
2. Kristi Toliver, G, 5-7 (13.8 ppg, 5.0 apg, 1.5 spg): If there is anyone that has been here before for the Mystics, it would be Toliver who won a championship with the Sparks back in 2016. In Game 4 (22 points) and Game 5 (19 points), the nine-year veteran stepped up in huge ways for the Mystics.
3. Ariel Atkins, G, 5-11 (15.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.8 apg): What a run it has been for the rookie in her first postseason. Atkins has scored 14 points in five of the team's six games in the playoffs and has been an integral part of the roster. Without her, the Mystics are not in the Finals.
Head Coach: Dan Hughes
1. Breanna Stewart, F, 6-4, (24.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg): Similar to Delle Donne, Stewart brings the same elements to the court. Like her counterpart she led the Storm in scoring and rebounding during 2018, helping guide the team to a 26-8 regular season record. This is only her third season in the league and has scored 22 points or more in four of the team's five playoff games.
2. Sue Bird, G, 5-9 (11.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 6.8 apg): Even though she is well past her prime, Bird is still a threat to go off for the Storm. In a winner-take-all Game 5 she had 5 3pters and 22 points. If successful, she is looking to lead Seattle to their third championship since she has been with the team.
3. Natasha Howard, F, 6-3 (14.0 ppg, 6.8 ppg, 1.4 spg): It has been quite the breakthrough year for the former Minnesota Lynx. In her first season as a starter, she is a lock for the Storm next to Stewart.
Mystics vs. Storm Storylines
1. Three Huskies vs. the one that got away: Seattle has three former Connecticut Huskies: Sue Bird (1998-2002) Breanna Stewart (2012-2016), and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (2011-2015). There could have been a fourth Huskie in this matchup, but Delle Donne decided that UConn was not the right fit after two days of classes before the start of the 2008-09 season. From there she went on to be a two-time All-American at Delaware and was selected second in the 2013 WNBA draft. Think Geno Auriemma is watching?
2. Terp vs. Terp: There are five former Maryland Terrapins playing in the 2018 WNBA Finals. Two of them know each other quite well as Kristi Toliver and Crystal Langhorne both played on the National Championship team back in 2006. It is not the first time these two have squared off, but there has never been so much on the line.
3. District of Champions: First it was the Washington Capitals on ice, then it was the Washington Valor in Arena Football. Can the Mystics give D.C. the summer championship trifecta?
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