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Inside the Washington Mystics' locker room before the Eastern Conference semifinals

Prior to the first game of the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Washington Mystics' locker room was not a "we're happy to be here" room. It was a "we mean business" room.

The atmosphere was much different than last season when the Mystics were swept by the Indiana Fever in the first round. Even players such as Crystal Langhorne who had played in big games before, winning a national championship at Maryland, didn't know what to expect in the WNBA playoffs. Now she does.

"You feel more confident," Crystal Langhorne said. "Now we have experience so it will be a little bit different."

Chasity Melvin, one of the few Mystics with playoff experience, had tried to tell her young teammates last year what the playoffs were like, but she knew they had to go through the experience to really understand.

"Oh yeah, definitely I can tell a big difference" between last year and this year, Melvin said. "Players had to grow up and mature."

According to Melvin, the young Mystics really started developing their playoff attitude during the final weeks of the regular season as they focused in on getting the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage.

"You see the focus and intensity in the push to get to first place," she said.

Also spotted in the locker room prior to the game were the defensive keys written by the coaches. The first one: "Rebound!!! Everyone!" The only time the Mystics lost to the Dream this season was on June 5 when Washington was out-rebounded, 44-38, in an 86-79 overtime loss.

By Kathy Orton  |  August 25, 2010; 6:55 PM ET
Categories:  WNBA playoffs  
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Next: Former Washington Mystics player Coco Miller makes triumphant return to Verizon Center

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