No mistake about it: Mystics are headed to first WNBA Finals

It took 20 years, but they are the star-crossed Mystics no more. Washington is going to the WNBA Finals for the first time, thanks to resilience, persistence and — finally — some good breaks going their way.

The Mystics beat the Dream 86-81 in Game 5 of their semifinal series Tuesday at McCamish Pavilion. When they left this building a week ago after a Game 2 loss, the Mystics were feeling upset and worried. Elena Delle Donne had injured her left knee late in that game, and it was hard not to fear the worst.cheap nfl nike jersey

But Tuesday night, Delle Donne sat in the Washington locker room wearing a WNBA Finals hat with the Mystics logo on it. She finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists. Her knee was elevated with a bag of ice on it, but she was smiling along with the rest of her teammates.12

“Pure joy,” Delle Donne said of her emotions when the buzzer when off. “And just being so proud of this team and what we’ve been able to overcome throughout this season. I’ve said it a lot, but it’s the culture that has gotten us through so much.”

“Culture” used to be the last thing that worked in the Mystics’ favor. This franchise was 3-27 in its inaugural season in 1998, and it had 12 coaches in its first 15 seasons. The Mystics at times were derisively referred to as “the mistakes.”

The Mystics have made the playoffs in five of Thibault’s six seasons. This is his third trip to the WNBA Finals, having made it there in 2004 and 2005 with Connecticut.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“Almost every time we’ve been challenged this year, we’ve had a bounce-back,” Thibault said of his team’s mindset. “Tonight, [the Dream] came back and took the lead on us, and the bounce-back came back again. It’s a great accomplishment for our franchise. These players have a lot to be proud of.”

Last year, Delle Donne joined the Mystics via trade, and Kristi Toliver — who had 19 points Tuesday — came as a free agent the year after winning a WNBA title with Los Angeles. Both wanted to be in Washington because it’s close to home. Toliver is from Harrisonburg, Virginia, and went to college at Maryland; Delle Donne is a Delaware native who played for her home state university.