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Mystics will have tough start to WNBA playoffs

Washington may face the Seattle Storm, led by Breanna Stewart, in the opening round.

Breanna Stewart (Number 30) of the Seattle Storm leads the WNBA is scoring. The Washington Mystics may face the Storm at the start of the playoffs. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) playoffs are coming up, and the Washington Mystics have not made it easy for themselves.

After Tuesday night’s games, the Mystics have a record of 20-14 (20 wins, 14 losses). That places them as the fifth seed in the eight-team playoffs. While things may change during the last days of the season, it looks like the Mystics will have to play the Seattle Storm in a three-game series during the opening round.

Talk about a tough start. Seattle beat the Mystics 2 out of 3 during the regular season.

All the games were close and hard-fought. But the Storm is a tough matchup for any team. They are led by Breanna Stewart, a 6-foot-4-inch forward who leads the WNBA in scoring, averaging 22 points per game. Stewart is also rugged enough to grab more than seven rebounds a game.

Seattle is loaded with veteran leadership. Point guard Sue Bird is in her 19th and final season in the WNBA. The four-time WNBA champion has won five Olympic gold medals with the United States team. Bird is used to the spotlight and will not get nervous in a close game.

Seattle has former Mystic Tina Charles too. The 33-year-old center is looking for her first WNBA title but has achieved almost every other honor in the game.

The WNBA has had problems catching on, but men's pro sports had problems too.

If the Mystics beat the Storm, they may have to play the Number 1 seed Chicago Sky. The defending WNBA champs lead the league with a record of 25-9. The Sky features a balanced offense in which six players average more than 10 points a game.

The Mystics would have their hands full with the Sky. Washington lost three of its four matchups with Chicago during the regular season.

The Mystics have a tough road ahead, but they have the talent to go all the way.

Elena Delle Donne is still one of the top players in women’s basketball. The Mystics rested Delle Donne during the season to make sure her surgically repaired back was ready for the playoffs. Hopefully she will be at the top of her game during the postseason.

Even if she isn’t, Washington still has a terrific backcourt in guards Ariel Atkins and Natasha Cloud. Atkins scored almost 15 points per game, and Cloud led the WNBA in assists with more than seven a game.

Finally, if the old sports saying that offense wins games but defense wins championships is true, the Mystics should have a real chance at the title. The Mystics allowed the fewest points per game in the WNBA this season.

It won’t be easy, but at least the Mystics have a shot.