The Washington Mystics have finished the 2019 regular season with a ridiculous 26-8 record, best in the WNBA and best in team history. The Mystics will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed and have homecourt advantage during the semifinals and potentially Finals.
Unlike last season when Washington had to win a single-elimination playoff game to escape Round 2, the Mystics will be able to sit back and relax as the 10-team field dwindles to four before they even get involved. No. 5 Chicago Sky will play No. 8 Phoenix Mercury and No. 6 Seattle Storm will play No. 7 Minnesota Lynx in the first round with the winners moving on to play No. 3 Los Angeles Sparks and No. 4 Las Vegas Aces. No. 1 Washington will face the lowest seed left standing after the first two rounds.
The feel around the organization and the larger group of Monumental Basketball is that anything short of a championship will be a disappointment for the Mystics this season. They hope to get point guard Kristi Toliver back from a knee contusion injury even though guard Natasha Cloud has done a good job shouldering the load. Getting Toliver back and everyone else through bumps and bruises will be key for Washington. When Elena Delle Donne is healthy, the Mystics are a ridiculous 26-4 with the MVP candidate available for the full game. Now, the D.C. team is six wins away from a championship.
Here is what Natasha Cloud and Emma Meesseman had to say after Washington’s penultimate regular-season game on Friday against the Wings. Hoop District’s Tillman Dunbar asked the questions.
On being the only true point guard without Kristi Toliver (knee):
Cloud: “Definitely a lot more responsibility on the offensive end to find people and get us into offenses. The pressure and responsibility is something I take on with pride and I’m trying to hold it down for the team and hold it down for Kristi right now.”
On the team’s mindset to make a championship run:
Cloud: “I like being in the driver seat with the No. 1 seed. Chicago comes in here on Sunday and we owe them on Sunday. We’re excited for the challenge but we are also focused on running it back. And that’s been our main focal point since the beginning of this season, well not since the beginning of this season since the beginning of last season. Just taking it day by day, who we are and what we do well and remaining kinda humble within that. Not getting into the talk and worrying about that number 1 position but for playoff seeding
On heading into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed:
Meeseman: “Good for us to get home court advantage because the fans will help us get that win and it will be nice to have two weeks of no travel with the double bye.”