Mystics reach first WNBA Finals


Photo courtesy of Flickr

Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne skies in for a layup in a regular season game against the Indiana Fever.

It’s been an exciting year for DC sports, a year most fans will remember for the Caps hoisting the Stanley Cup as they broke the curse of a 44 year drought. The last time the Caps made an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals was in 1998, the same year that the Washington Mystics became a WNBA team. Like the Caps, he Mystics have had their own struggles and their own curse. Through grit and determination, the Mystics managed to make their first ever WNBA finals appearance.

“It looks like things are finally coming together for the Mystics after starting the season off strong then encountering some midseason struggles. Elena Delle Donne, has carried…the team to 22 wins this season, the most in the Thibault Era since 2013”, Greydy Diaz of SB Nation said.   

Since acquiring Delle Donne from the Chicago Sky in a blockbuster trade, she has been vital to the Mystics’ success. It’s hard to believe, but in 2016, the Mystics finished tenth in the league with a disappointing 13-21 record. Since the addition of Delle Donne, the Mystics have greatly improved, finishing sixth in 2017 with an 18-16 record and finishing third this past season with a 22-12 record.

The Mystics cruised in their first round playoff game against the Los Angeles Sparks, but when the semifinals came around, the Mystics faced adversity in their semifinal series with the Atlanta Dream. In Game 2 of their best-of-five series, Delle Donne went down with a knee injury late in the fourth quarter and was escorted off the court. She missed the rest of the game as well as Game 3. The Dream took both of those games to take a 2-1 series lead and just like that, the Mystics seemed to be done.

“I was very nervous when I saw [Delle Donne] go down… I definitely thought the Mystics had a chance after the Dream went up 2-1 because Elena, although injured [she] was not going to go out on her home court,” Jasmine Brown, a WNBA Insider, said.

Game 4 was different with Delle Donne returning for the Mystics in a win-or-go-home game. There was a different feeling with the Mystics, they ran off with a 21 point victory off of Delle Donne’s 15 points and Kristi Toliver’s 22 points. The series was tied and one game seperated each team from a berth in the WNBA finals.

Game 5 came down to the wire with a two point differential between the teams with under seven minutes remaining in the game. The back and forth game implied that it would come down to a final shot, however, the Mystics took advantage of Dream mistakes late in the game with a 9-0 run. Despite a desperate comeback attempt from the Dream, the Mystics would take the game punching their ticket to the WNBA finals.

“[The game] was more for the city. The Mystics haven’t gone to the finals and I feel like there was good karma after Delle Donne [came back]…her injury could’ve been worse than it was so I was pretty confident they were going to take that win in Atlanta,” paraeducator Chase Rieder said.

The Mystics’ luck ran out in the finals, but they set many milestones this season. This team has paved the way for future Mystics teams to repeat the success they have had this past season. In the coming years, the goal is to take it one step forward and win the WNBA finals. With the success of both the Mystics and Capitals, the future of DC sports is looking up.