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WNBA Finals Game 3: Mystics vs. Storm Preview, time, TV channel, how to watch

WNBA Finals Game 3: Mystics vs. Storm Preview, time, TV channel, how to watch

Wednesday night is do-or-die time in the WNBA Finals for the Washington Mystics. The Mystics, who trail two games to none in a best-of-five series to the Seattle Storm, face elimination if they can't rally for Game 3 played at home at George Mason University's Eagle Bank Arena in Fairfax, Va. 

The Mystics have never made it to the WNBA Finals in their short 20-year history. The Seattle Storm, however, is making their third appearance in the WNBA Finals. The other two appearances resulted in championships in 2004 and 2010.

The best-of-five series has been dominated by the Storm. Despite a last-ditch attempt to come back in the fourth quarter of Game 2, the Mystics missed every single 3-pointer, which ultimately cost them the game.

Elena Delle Donne, who suffered a bone bruise during Game 2 of the WNBA semifinals vs. the Atlanta Dream, ditched the knee brace that seemed to limit her in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals for a knee sleeve in Game 2, and the results were apparent. Delle Donne's 17 points in Game 2 bests her 10-point performance during the entirety of Game 1.

Washington will need to shut down Seattle's Breanna Stewart, the 2017 WNBA MVP and who led the Storm with 25 points in Game 2, if they want to have a chance of extending the series to a Game 4 and 5.

Mystics vs. Storm Game 3 Preview

How to Watch Mystics vs. Storm Game 3

What: 2018 WNBA Playoffs, Finals (Game 3) 
Where: Eagle Bank Arena, George Mason University, Fairfax, Va.
When: 8:00 p.m. ET. Wednesday, September 12
TV Channel: ESPN2

3 Things to Know

From the Land of 3
In Game 2 vs. the Seattle Storm, the Mystics shot 0-16 from three-point range. In the regular season, Washington was third in three-point FGM/GM (8.4). The Mystics are averaging 6.8 three-pointers FGM/GM this postseason.

Taking the Lead
The Mystics had a five-point lead in Game 2. That's the biggest lead Washington has had in the entire series after only having a one-point lead early in the first quarter in Game 1.

3 Things to Watch

Playing in the Paint
After giving up 50 points in the paint in Game 1, the Mystics controlled the paint in Game 2 and only allowed 26 points. In fact, Washington won the battle in the paint 38-26 after losing 50-32 in Game 1.

Turnovers 
After 13 turnovers in Game 1, Washington only turned the ball over seven times in Game 2. However five turnovers came in the fourth quarter. Conversely, after Seattle only turned the ball over 10 times in Game 1, that total jumped to 15 in Game 2.

Bounce Back Game for Atkins
After scoring a career playoff high 23 points (10-14 FG) vs. Storm in Game 1, Ariel Atkins scored a quiet 15 points (4-15 FG) in Game 2 (7-8 FT).

Mystics Keys to Victory

1. Fast Start
Mystics need to get off to a fast start, something they have not done in this series. In Game 1, Washington trailed Seattle 24-13 after one, and down as many as 16 in the first half. The Storms' largest lead of 27 came in the third quarter. In Game 2, the Mystics trailed 25-16 after one. Seattle had a 12-point lead early in the second quarter before Washington went on a 24-8 run to close out the second and lead 40-36 at half.

2. Don’ Let Jewell Shine
After scoring 23 points in Game 1, it took a half for Jewell Lloyd to get the scoring going in Game 2. Mystics contained her in the first 20 minutes as Lloyd only scored one point in the first half. After the break she added 12 points to help the Storm secure a two-point victory.

3. Bench Matters
After Washington’s bench outscored Seattle’s bench in Game 1, 27-13, the Mystics’ bench outscored the Storm’s bench 16-12 in Game 2. Mystics forward Myisha Hines-Allen continues to shine off the pine with eight points on 4-4 shooting in Game 1 and six points on 3-3 shooting in Game 2. Hines-Allen is shooting 7-7 FG (100%) in both games combined vs. Storm.

Tidbits

Mystics Third Home
Washington will be hosting a game in a third venue this year. After a 12-5 record at Capital One Arena (2nd best record at home this season), the Mystics went 2-1 in the playoffs at the Smith Center at George Washington University. This will be the first time the Mystics will have ever played at Eagle Bank Arena on the campus of George Mason University. Keep in mind Washington had the third best road record during the regular season at 10-7. In the 2018 playoffs, Mystics are 2-3 on the road.

Storm Court Advantage
George Mason colors are green and gold. The same as the Seattle Storm. Eagle Bank Arena approximate capacity is 10,000. The Mystics are expecting a near sellout. For Washington it will help if the fans show up in red, white, and blue to wash out the green and gold seats.

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Rui Hachimura's learning curve can be seen on offense late in games

Rui Hachimura's learning curve can be seen on offense late in games

WASHINGTON -- Wizards forward Rui Hachimura has translated so smoothly to the NBA level that it is easy to forget he is still just a rookie with only 31 games under his belt. For a reminder of his inexperience, just look at the fourth quarter.

Hachimura tends to start games hot on the offensive end, like he did on Friday in the Wizards' loss to the Cavaliers when he had eight points by the end of the first quarter. But he scored only nine points after that and went scoreless through seven minutes in the fourth.

That has been a consistent theme for him this season. He averages 4.8 points in the first quarter shooting 48.4 percent from the field, 4.0 points in the second shooting 57 percent and then 4.3 points on 47.9 percent in the third. In the fourth quarter those numbers plummet to 1.9 points on average and 33.3 percent shooting.

Basically, Hachimura often comes out on fire but then slows down considerably once opponents make midgame changes. Against the Cavs, Hachimura said it was because they disrupted passing lanes.

"They are an NBA team. They just adjusted. They didn't want me to catch the ball. They didn't let me just catch the ball. I think that's why," he said.

The Wizards have seen teams switch defensive match-ups midgame to counter Hachimura. Sometimes taking away his midrange jumper will be prioritized. The Cavs seemed to find success playing Hachimura more physically in the second half, bumping him away from his comfort zones.

Over time, Hachimura can improve his ability to sustain scoring throughout games simply by becoming more versatile. The more consistent he becomes at making three-point shots and creating off the dribble, the more difficult it will be for teams to stop him. As long as he keeps improving, he will reach a point where he can stay ahead of the defense with a multitude of counters.

Developing a more reliable outside game and more dribble combinations will take some time. For now, Hachimura believes the key to him keeping up his scoring pace involves working with his teammates, particularly star shooting guard Bradley Beal.

"I just gotta connect more with Brad. Brad is the one everybody is trying to guard. Screens and pick-and-rolls with him, that kind of stuff will help me," Hachimura said.

Hachimura's game against the Cavaliers reflected how the team played overall. After scoring 41 points in the first quarter, they managed only 42 in the second half. They blew a 16-point lead and lost, 113-108.

So, he wasn't alone. And those rooting for Hachimura to round out his game should feel good about his odds. He has a relentless work ethic and is often staying after practice to go over film with player development coach Dave Adkins.

Hachimura is perceptive and driven to improve. In order to take the next step as a scorer, he will have to get better at closing games.

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Tristan Thompson calls Bradley Beal one of the best shooting guards in the league

Tristan Thompson calls Bradley Beal one of the best shooting guards in the league

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson spoke with reporters after the team's victory over the Wizards Friday night, praising Bradley Beal, who was snubbed from All-Star consideration this season despite averaging nearly 30 points-per-game.

The Cavaliers held the Wizards to just 21 points in the fourth quarter, and Thompson said their main focus was neutralizing Beal.

"The Wizards are really good offensively when they are making their runs," Thompson said postgame. "Bradley Beal is an All-Star in our league. One of the top-three two-guards in our league right now, so we were just trying to make it tough for him."

Beal finished the night with 26 points, but struggled from the floor. Beal shot 9-for-28 from the floor and the Cavaliers' stingy defense was clearly a factor.

Beal and the Wizards will have a chance to get back on track on Sunday night at Capital One Arena when they host the Chicago Bulls for the final time this season.

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