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Mystics must look to have an early answer for Storm in Game 2

Will Breanna Stewart and the Storm go up 2-0, or will Elena Delle Donne and the Mystics even the WNBA Finals? Jennifer Buchanan/USA TODAY Sports

SEATTLE -- It's not that the Washington Mystics were unprepared for the intensity of Friday's Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, Washington coach Mike Thibault said. But once things started getting away from them, it escalated fast. And in a building as full of fan energy as KeyArena was for their beloved Seattle Storm, it felt a little like an avalanche.

Thibault said the Mystics have to make some X's and O's adjustments for Sunday's Game 2 (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET) after their 89-76 loss Friday. But there's more to it.

"KeyArena has always been a tough place for a lot of teams to play," Thibault said. "Having gone through the first game, hopefully our players will be a little bit more in tune with the energy needed to win a game like that. We made mistakes that just turned into layups.

"The lack of aggression came a little bit from fatigue, and from being on our heels from how the game started. The turnovers, and then they're laying it in. They just got that burst where I just thought we were sloppy."

Rookie Ariel Atkins scored 23 points to lead the Mystics, but in general, they didn't look like the team that three nights earlier had gone into Atlanta and won Game 5 of their semifinals series.

"We just weren't 'us' from start to finish," said Washington's Elena Delle Donne, who was 4-of-11 from the field for 10 points Friday. "We just couldn't get ourselves going. And it felt like everything was a struggle. It was almost like everybody was trying too hard, like when you're in quicksand, and you try too hard to get out, you keep sinking more."

As well as Seattle played, though, it was especially perilous quicksand. The Storm shot 54.7 percent from the field, with Jewell Loyd (23 points), Breanna Stewart (22) and Natasha Howard (19) leading the way.

"We played really well, but there were points, like in the fourth quarter, where they were more aggressive than us," Stewart said, trying to find some flaws. "We have to continue to take advantage of what we do well. We were able to get out of the gate and run, and against Phoenix, that seemed like our hardest thing to do.

"Doing that, especially with our crowd, it opens the game up and makes us play the type of game we want to play. As a whole, that was probably one of the best games we had, just because we had contributions from everyone, and it seemed like we were all on the same page defensively. Now it's just come out and do it again on Sunday."

Seattle coach Dan Hughes knows that the Mystics will make alterations to try to prevent that.

"Some matchup changes in guarding is usually a response," Hughes said. "And maybe a change of schemes toward some of our more successful players, so they're playing in more congestion. And a much more assertive presence coming at us; they're going to put the ball on the ground more and go to the glass harder."