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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.

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.


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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Wizards' 2018-19 storyline No. 3: Where do the Wizards fit in the new-look East?

Wizards' 2018-19 storyline No. 3: Where do the Wizards fit in the new-look East?

With Wizards training camp set to begin next week, we at NBC Sports Washington are counting down the five biggest storylines for the team as they start a new season. Today, at No. 3, a look at the remodeled Eastern Conference and where the Wizards fit… 

The transformation of the NBA's Eastern Conference this summer was not unlike the end and beginning of a new era in presidential politics. LeBron James, who reigned over the conference for nearly a decade, is gone. His eight-year term of Finals appearances out of the East is complete. Now a wide range of candidates are lining up to be the next power-players and it's a crowded field.

Seizing the empty throne

James' departure has had a massive effect on teams in the East, whether they ran into his Cavs or Heat in the playoffs repeatedly over the years or were affected by his presence indirectly. James going West paves the way for a new East representative in the NBA Finals and that allows everyone to dream a little bigger.

Though the Wizards never faced James in the playoffs during his streak of eight straight NBA Finals appearances, Washington players themselves have remarked about the opportunity created in wake of James leaving. They, along with the Celtics, Sixers, Raptors and other perennial playoff teams in the East, are gunning to pick up where James and Cleveland left off.

That arms race included significant changes for the Wizards this summer. They shook up their starting lineup by trading Marcin Gortat and signing Dwight Howard to a two-year contract. They brought in veterans like Austin Rivers and Jeff Green to shore up depth on their bench. They also kept their draft picks for the first time since 2015, using the first round selection to take Troy Brown, Jr. of Oregon.

Though questions remain about how it will all be put together, the Wizards appear to have improved themselves year-over-year. As long as John Wall is healthier than he was last season when he missed 41 games, it's logical to expect them to be back in the mix as contenders in the East. Exactly how high they are capable of going, however, is a big question entering this season.

Continuous growth

That's because despite James leaving, the East has grown deeper at the top in recent years. The Celtics have made the Eastern Conference Finals in two straight seasons and last year finished one win away from the NBA Finals. They did that without Gordon Hayward, who was lost for the season on opening night, and Kyrie Irving, who missed the playoffs due to injury.

The Celtics were good enough to win 55 games last season and without their two of their best and most accomplished players. If they are healthy and guys like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown continue to develop, the Celtics deserve their status as favorites in the East.

The Raptors disappointed in the playoffs this past spring by getting swept by James and the Cavs in the second round. But they still won 59 games during the regular season and should be able to maintain their success with Kawhi Leonard now in DeMar DeRozan's place.

Toronto will ultimately be judged by what they do in the playoffs and they have plenty to prove, but no one should underestimate their ability to take care of business during the regular season. The Raptors have won at least 48 games in each of the past five years and 50 or more in the last three.

The Sixers had by any measure a dreadful offseason, first with the firing of their general manager and then with a fruitless free agent period, followed by an injury to first round pick Zhaire Smith. But Philadelphia didn't really have to add much to their roster to remain in the East's elite.

The Sixers already won 52 games last season and boast two of the best young players in the NBA in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. If they, along with Markelle Fultz, can stay healthy and continue developing, the Sixers will only rise from here.

Most would probably put the Wizards in that next tier, after the trio of Boston, Toronto and Philadelphia at the top, in terms of expected playoff seeding. But they should enter the season hopeful they can supplant one of those teams because they have the talent to do so.

By any means

One problem is that history shows the Wizards have struggled to make that leap. To get there, they would probably have to win 50 games or more and they haven't done that since the 1978-79 season. They also haven't been higher than a four-seed in the playoffs since that year.

The Wizards have been the No. 4 seed as recently as 2016-17, and that comes with the nice bonus of home court advantage in the first round. But to go higher than four, they will need to demonstrate a level of consistency not seen for their franchise in almost 40 years.

Before the Wizards set their sights on the top teams in the East, they will need to separate themselves from the others who are in a similar position. Just like the Wizards, teams like the Pacers, the Bucks and Heat have dreams of a breakout year.

The Wizards definitely have the roster talent to finish ahead of that pack. Washington has two All-Stars, something those teams can't boast. But all three of those teams had better records than the Wizards did last season and Indiana and Milwaukee have All-NBA players. Giannis Antetokounmpo, in particular, is good enough to change the landscape in the East on his own, if he makes the MVP leap many have been waiting for.

In order for the Wizards to emerge from the middle of the conference and become Finals contenders, health will of course be key. They will also need to get re-establish a homecourt advantage and find a way to capitalize against lesser teams. Last season, the Wizards had the fewest home wins and victories against below-.500 opponents of any playoff team.

With James out of the picture, the Eastern Conference appears more open than it has been in years. The Wizards eye an opportunity for themselves, but they aren't alone.


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John Wall joins Stephen Curry and Chris Paul in raising money for Hurricane Florence relief efforts

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John Wall joins Stephen Curry and Chris Paul in raising money for Hurricane Florence relief efforts

Three of the NBA's best North Carolina-raised stars are teaming up to help relief efforts back home following the devastation of Hurricane Florence.

Wizards guard John Wall has collaborated with Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Rockets guard Chris Paul to field donations through social media in an initiative aptly called 'Assist for Hurricane Florence.' 

The trio has joined forces on Twitter and Instagram to get the donation link out there:

Wall, who is originally from Raleigh, also did his part to warn residents before the storm hit land to prepare for its impact.

As with other big storms, the rebuild of communities affected by Hurricane Florence will likely take years. As of Friday morning, the three All-Star guards had raised over $50,000.

Unfortunately, the hometowns and states of Wizards players have been rattled by hurricanes in recent offseasons. Last summer, they had three players from Houston, Texas who were affected by Hurricane Harvey. 

Then-Wizards guard Sheldon Mac was in Houston when the hurricane hit and was staying in a neighborhood that flooded. Wall and teammate Bradley Beal organized fundraising for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts as well.

To donate to the organization Wall, Curry and Paul are promoting, click here.