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Mystics lose to Sabrina Ionescu, Liberty in WNBA playoff opener

NEW YORK — Brittany Sykes stood in a hallway outdoor the Washington Mystics’ locker room at Barclays Middle and summed up her group’s 90-75 Recreation 1 loss to the New York Liberty on Friday evening with one phrase: “Effort. “

The Mystics took the sector to open their postseason and could not pass over. Their first 4 makes an attempt from 4 other avid gamers all discovered the ground of the online.

That lasted simplest 10 mins. When the Mystics’ offense cooled off, the intangibles – unfastened balls, getting again on protection, chasing rebounds – was much more essential. And that hard-to-define class additionally belonged to Liberty, who completely defeated the Mystics on this best-of-three collection opener. Recreation 2 is Tuesday in Brooklyn.

“Effort,” mentioned Sykes. “Unfastened balls; 50-50; Competitive counterattack. That is all this is wanted. Keep in mind that we did not need it, however they sought after it extra and it confirmed. It used to be so simple as that.”

The seventh-seeded Mystics cut up the common season collection with Liberty, which fell to the No. 2 seed final week when Sykes hit a buzzer-beater at the identical flooring. Mystic guard Natasha Cloud celebrated through waving to the Brooklyn crowd as she walked off the courtroom.

Cloud had 4 issues in about 32 mins Friday, however added 8 rebounds and 8 assists. Myisha Hines-Allen led the Mystics with 21 issues and Sykes added 16 issues. However the Mystics by no means discovered a solution for Sabrina Ionescu, who had a game-high 29 issues together with seven three-pointers, a franchise playoff file.

Mystics input playoff collection towards Liberty as ‘very frightening’ underdogs

New York ruled the second one part and not trailed after halftime as Washington’s offense faltered. The tempo used to be fast early because the Mystics got here out in transition and compelled the Liberty protection to transport and go away shooters open. Issues bogged down after that quarter because the Mystics struggled with transition protection and allowed 19 second-chance issues.

“We most probably had a large number of possessions the place we got here down and it used to be more or less a sport of motion after which seeing every different,” Mystics trainer Eric Thibault mentioned. “However I believed the largest factor that modified after the primary quarter used to be our comeback. I believe that they had one offensive board within the first quarter, 13 the remainder of the sport. It is tough to get in transition when they are getting put-backs and kick-out threes off the offensive forums.”

Two-time MVP Elena Delle Donne by no means discovered her offensive rhythm and made simply 5 of 12 photographs from the sector for 11 issues.

“For me this rehab that I am going thru presently, it is a procedure and it is about me trusting the method,” mentioned Hines-Allen, who had offseason knee surgical operation. “And presently I am peaking on the proper time, which is essential.”

Washington went on an 8-0 run to take a 71-65 lead early within the fourth quarter, however Ionescu capped the rally with two three-pointers and minimize the result in 12 as the group roared. That collection necessarily gave the sport away.

“We simply have to bear in mind our schemes,” Sykes mentioned, “and we need to perceive and know the group of workers and remember the fact that he is striking the ball at the flooring for us than getting sizzling from the arc. Led the league in threes. I have no idea why we let him hit that rattling ball.

“It is at all times irritating while you know the technique to the issue and you do not.”

Alyssa Thomas is having the best yr of her existence. The WNBA Playoffs are subsequent.

Each and every time the Mystics were given inside of one level, Liberty had a solution. Jonquel Jones had a double-double with 20 issues and 12 rebounds and Betnijah Laney totaled 19 issues. League MVP candidate Breanna Stewart had a sluggish evening with 10 issues on 3-16 capturing.

“I am dwelling for this chance,” Ionescu mentioned after the sport. “…I used to be simply in that zone, locked in. The basket seemed in reality giant when I used to be capturing.”

Sykes mentioned proscribing dangerous stretches earlier than the sport, and the second one quarter used to be a kind of, the kind of stretch the Mystics have continued a couple of instances all season.

Washington shot a blazing 57.1 p.c from the sector within the first quarter and led 27.23, as all 5 starters scored.

Lane stored Liberty protected early, whilst Stewart used to be frequently in the best position on the proper time, however stored them from scoring.

Issues became round in the second one quarter because the Mystics bogged down offensively and Liberty used to be getting contributions from everybody. All 5 of New York’s starters scored in that moment quarter, and a 6–1 run to finish the quarter capped through Laney’s buzzer-beating layup gave New York the halftime merit.

“The primary quarter used to be like, oh right here we move, they are able to get 120,” Liberty trainer Sandy Brondello mentioned. “However we knew we had been going to recover defensively and it is only a few little adjustments that helped us.”

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