Without center Lauren Jackson's defensive presence, the Seattle Storm struggled to contain second-year Connecticut Sun star Tina Charles in the post.
Charles is playing as well as anyone in the league right now, averaging 19.8 points per game and 10.9 rebounds per game, and caused major problems until the Storm's guards made getting her the ball more difficult.
Washington Mystics center Crystal Langhorne is not quite as dominant a player as Charles has been over the past few games, averaging 18.1 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game. But as a slightly more efficient scorer who gets to the free throw line more often, Langhorne certainly poses a challenge in the post.
So although the Mystics are currently last place in the Eastern Conference at 2-5 - in large part due to significant injuries to wings Alana Beard and Monique Currie - they could give the Storm some problems today.
Keys to the game:
- Rebounding: Led by Langhorne and defensive stalwart Nicky Anosike, the Mystics thrive on being the best offensive rebounding team by percentage in the WNBA and are adept at both converting those rebounds into easy baskets while also preventing opponents from doing the same. That certainly makes the battle of the boards significant in this game.
Shooting efficiency: Neither of these teams is a particularly accurate shooting team with the Mystics ninth in the league and the Storm 11th. Neither team is particularly adept at 3-point shooting, as the Storm are experiencing a puzzling slump from beyond the arc, shooting only 25.6 percent this year after being one of the best in the league last year. However, where the Storm might have an advantage in that department is defending shots - despite their shooting woes, the Storm have been one of the strongest defenses in the league in allowing opponents to shoot only 41.2 percent from the field. The Mystics, meanwhile, have allowed opponents to shoot 47.7 percent, 11th in the league. The Mystics could help the Storm's shooting a bit.
- Bench play: Although they're struggling quite a bit to put up wins, the Mystics are a scrappy team that plays hard on every possession, especially in the rebounding department. That makes the Storm's bench play particularly significant in that they'll have to both give the starters a rest and match the energy of the Mystics for 40 minutes.