WNBA: Hartley Healthy for Washington Heading to New York for Playoff Opener
WASHINGTON – Bria Hartley has her swagger back.
Not that the ultra-confident second year Washington Mystic guard ever lost confidence or anything like that, but the year hasn’t gone as expected for Hartley, who had a terrific training camp following a strong season playing in Hungary.
Unfortunately for most of the 2015 season, Hartley was grounded by a stress fracture in her right foot that limited her effectiveness and time on the court. Her patience was tested.
As the fourth-seeded Mystics prepare to open the WNBA Playoffs Friday night against top-seeded New York at Madison Sqaure Garden (7:00 p.m. NBA-TV), those struggles are a thing of the past.
Hartley is playing her best basketball of the season at the most important time. Over the Mystics final nine regular season games, she averaged 6.2 points off the bench.
“I feel good and haven’t had any problems as of late so that’s good and positive,” Hartley said Sunday night following the Mystics 73-71 loss to the Atlanta Dream at the Verizon Center. “I hope it keeps going like that.”
She was solid during the recent four-game road trip where she scored a season-high 11 points against the Los Angeles Sparks and 10 points against the Atlanta Dream in her next game.
However, more important then her scoring has been watching The former University of Connecticut standout demonstrate her trademark explosiveness on drives to the basket and locking up opponents on the defensive end.
The Mystics had five days off between games against Chicago and Phoenix in late August, which could have contributed to Hartley’s getting healthier.
“I didn’t do anything different,” Hartley said of the break. “We had a day off like we normally do. I just tried to stay in my same routine and stay in shape. Fortunately during our practices, we’re able to go at each other and stay in game shape.”
Hartley is excited for the playoffs to begin. Her first experience of playoff action lasted three days last year as a rookie. The Mystics were eliminated by the Indiana Fever in two intense games.
This year it’s even better that she’s opening the playoffs on Broadway in shadow of her Long Island home.
Of course, Hartley’s not exactly focused only on the storyline of defeating her hometown team in the playoffs.
“It’s cool,” Hartley said. “It’s good for my family to come and see me play in both New York and Washington during this series. Our main focus as a team is to go out and play well and do what we need to do to earn the win.”
Hartley played in two of the four meetings against the Liberty this season.
She scored five points in 15 minutes in 79-76 overtime loss to the Liberty on July 9 and then dropped seven points last week in an 82-55 victory in Madison Square Garden.
Overall, the Mystics won the season series 3-1 against the Liberty, but that statistic is useless now with each team being 0-0 in the best-of-three series.
“This is a position that we wanted to be in at the start of the season,” Hartley said. “To make sure we keep going forward, we have to go out and give everything we’ve got. We also have to do the little things, take care of the ball and rebound.”
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