I will be adding the Washington Mystics to my free sports picks Saturday, July 6th at home against the Seattle Storm. The Mystics started the year 4-1 before dropping five straight games. They bounced back in their last game at home against the worst team in the league: Tulsa. This is an angle that I like a lot in basketball. When a decent team goes on a long losing streak and finally snaps out of it with a win, they normally win the following game as well. This is mostly due to an increase in confidence. The Storm have had an up and down season at 5-6. They did pull off an upset win against a good 7-3 Sky team in Chicago in their last game. I think that win will cause them to be a bit overvalued coming into this game, especially since the Sky did not have their best player, Sylvia Fowles. Teams off a road win in the WNBA typically struggle in their next game. The Storm are a sub .500 team this year and sub .500 teams in the last 3 years have gone 26-43 on the road winning just 37% of the time. Trying to pull off back to back road wins is very tough even for the elite in the WNBA. Only about three WNBA teams on average end up with a winning record on the road each season.
Follow live WNBA odds at SBRForum.
The records of both these teams are the same at 5-6 but I think the Mystics are the better team despite that. Washington has had to play Phoenix twice, Atlanta twice, and LA. Those account for 5 of their 6 losses and all three of those teams are the odds on favorites to win the WNBA title. Seattle on the other hand has lost twice against the worst team in the league, Tulsa. They also lost vs NY and Indiana: two teams with lots of injuries who are not very good. The Mystics and Storm did play once but that game was in Seattle. The Mystics were a road underdog and nearly won the game outright taking Seattle to overtime. It took Seattle a 30 point effort from Tina Thompson and 9 made 3 pointers. Thompson only averages 12.5 points per game so she scored more than triple her average and the Storm only make 5.3 3's a game so nearly double their team average. That is what it took them to just get by in overtime versus the Mystics. I do not see either of those things happening for Seattle again in Washington.
The Mystics match up very well with the Storm. Washington struggles with rebounding and turnovers. Their rebound rate is 0.49. Seattle is actually a worse rebounding team though at .475. It seems unlikely that the Storm will be able to exploit that weakness. The Mystics also struggle in the turnover category but, again, they actually force more turnovers than the Storm do. Washington is a little below the league average in terms of opponent points in the paint. Seattle most likely won't make them pay inside as they are the 4th worst team scoring points in the paint. The Mystics also have the advantage in 2nd chance points, fast break points and points off turnovers. I think that will be the big difference in the game as the Mystics will be able to get easy buckets while the Storm will have to work hard for every point.
Just on a player to player talent standpoint I also believe the Mystics are much better. The Mystics have two all stars this year with Ivory Latta and Crystal Langhorne. Latta is averaging 15.8 points per game, 4.1assists while shooting a ridiculous 49% from 3 point range. Langhorne is averaging 13.8 points per game, 6.8rebounds on 56% shooting. The Storm’s two best active players are Temeka Johnson and Tina Thompson. Temeka averages 12ppg and 3.8assists but she is not quite at that all star level. Tina Thompson used to be an all star but at age 38, her game has obviously seen a decline. Thompson jacks up a lot of 3's and has done so inefficiently this year at 32%. I expect the Mystics to face guard her in tomorrows game and not let her breathe after she torched them in the first meeting. The Storm two best players Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird are both out for the season. I think they've done pretty good considering the circumstances early on but the lack of talent should eventually kick and I see this team taking a bad downswing in the near future. The Mystics have a much better bench as well. Washington's bench averages 25.5 points per game (2nd best in the WNBA) while the Storm bench averages just 18.7ppg (5th worst in the WNBA). Benches in general play much better at home so I think the Mystics will really be able to exploit that advantage.
Lastly, the Storm have had a horrendous schedule as of late. They have played 7 of their last 9 games on the road. They have had to take nine flights across the country traveling 14,244 miles. Half of the flights were 2,000+ miles. That will really take a toll on you after a while and I just think this team may be negatively affected by all this travel and should be wanting to just get home already. All the traveling really messes up your standard routines, practice times and just your overall comfort level of being able to sleep in your own bed. The Mystics were on a west coast road trip about 10 days ago but they have been on the east coast ever since. Their last game was at home so they have now been waiting in Washington for Seattle an entire week. Seattle is one of the worst offensive teams scoring just 71.3ppg. Washington is averaging 78.6ppg. Washington is only giving up 38.2% from the field at home while Seattle is giving up 44.9% from the field on the road. The Mystics have been the worst team in the WNBA the last few years and I think the linesmakers aren't catching up fast enough to their vast improvement this season. The Mystics coach Mike Thibault is the league leader in WNBA wins. I believe the Mystics will win this game by a score of 81-70.
Follow all of my plays in my thread in SBR's Handicapping Forum.