ATLANTA -- In the fourth quarter, with their season on the line, the Atlanta Dream finally woke up and handled business, closing the game with an 18-6 run for an 80-72 series-clinching victory over the Washington Mystics.
Shot goes up -- miss -- the Dream get the rebound. Another shot goes up -- miss -- the Dream grab the rebound. Repeat that scenario over and over and it pretty much sums up game two of the Mystics-Dream series. Neither team shot well, the but the Dream won the game on the boards, out-rebounding Washington 53-30! The Atlanta Dream out-rebounded, out-hustled, and out-muscled the Washington to send the series back to the Peach State for a decisive game three.
Washington Mystics head coach and general manager Mike Thibault was named the 2013 WNBA Coach of the Year Award at a Verizon Center press conference prior to the second game of the Mystics' best-of-three Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Atlanta Dream.
The Washington Mystics woke up the Dream last night with a dominating win that not many expected. The Mystics showed what it looks like when a team comes out mentally focused and everyone, and I do mean everyone, plays aggressively and together. In fact, the Mystics were so dominant that this win was essentially in hand by the middle of the third quarter.
On paper, this series should be easy to call. Look at the Dream roster: It has more world class players and thus should be expected to win. However, the games are not played on paper and the subplots in this series could make it much more competitive and interesting than a casual fan might anticipate.
In spite of what pundits predict, the WNBA narrative often does not behave according to the script laid out for it.
The Eastern Conference is relatively simple: a dominating Atlanta Dream followed by a super-talented Chicago Sky, and then everyone else. The Bill Laimbeer-led Liberty can’t score and turn the ball over way too much, the Connecticut Sun and Indiana Fever can’t stay healthy and the Washington Mystics … well, the Mystics look pretty good, all things considered.
The top three spots in the 2013 WNBA draft went exactly as scripted, but the order that the remaining draftees would be chosen was a mystery until their names were called. Ohio State's Tayler Hill was the No. 4 over all pick by the Washington Mystics, and was the first of what was characterized as the "other draft" - meaning the players that were drafter after Griner, Delle Donne and Diggins. The two-time All Big 10 player now finds herself part of a 3-1 team that is enjoying an energetic renaissance under new head coach Mike Thibault.
The new motto of the Washington Mystics might as well be “In Thibault We Trust.”
For while there’s no game-changing center or charismatic point guard headed to D.C. -- thank you, draft lottery -- the Mystics do believe they've finally found the correct leadership answer in new coach/general manager Mike Thibault, the winningest active coach in the WNBA.
Many might have been surprised when Emma Meesseman of Belgium was the first overseas player chosen in the WNBA draft (by the Washington Mystics), but the 6-4 post has already earned pleny of honors in Europe even though she won’t turn 20 until May 13.