Washington Mystics secured a playoff berth on Sunday defeating the Indiana Fever 87-82 on the road, but more is in store with playoffs in their view.
WASHINGTON, D.C — A sigh of relief along with the words of “finally” may have come across fan’s minds on Sunday as the Washington Mystics (17-12) made the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. A slight rough journey that seemed out of reach as Washington had troubles obtaining this spot. It took the Mystics three tries before finally raising their eyes up to the playoffs come September.
The first game clinching opportunity came against the Los Angeles Sparks (22-8), but ended in a 95-62 rout. Forward Nneka Ogwumike and guard Odyssey Sims both had 18 points while center Candace Parker dropped 21 points and grabbed seven boards.
A second chance came two days later hosting the Phoenix Mercury (15-15). They had previously beaten the Mercury earlier in August, but a needed asset was missing that night: Brittney Griner. She played in just her second game after missing eight games.
Griner contributed a double-double (13 pts, 10 reb) in the Mystics loss. Diana Taurasi scored 14 of her 25 points in the fourth quarter to seal the 89-79 win taking away the Mystics chance to clinch. The loss pushed Washington out of fourth place and down to fifth.
Third times a charm. Washington played its first road game in over two weeks against the Indiana Fever (9-21) winning 87-82 finally getting the fifth spot of eight in the playoffs. Three out five starters scored in double figures including Kristi Toliver who scored 12 of her 18 points in the fourth quarter.
In the playoffs, the top four teams receive a first round bye and of those four the top two receive a bye to the semifinals. Washington may have a shot at the No. 4 seed depending on their play for the remaining season. Currently the New York Liberty (17-12) owns the tiebreaker with Washington based on their winning percentage versus teams .500 or better.
Examining the Mystics’ remaining opponents, New York is next on the list while on the road Friday. The Liberty are currently on a five-game win streak winning 7 of their last 10 games.
Coming off the road, the Mystics have a three-game home stretch followed by a regular season finale on the road with the runner-up in the 2016 WNBA Finals, Minnesota Lynx (23-6).
Some small setbacks that have been affecting the Mystics throughout the season are injuries to guard Tayler Hill (ACL), forward/center Elena Delle Donne (thumb) and guard Natasha Cloud (hip).
Hill is out for the season, while Delle Donne is facing her second injury. She had surgery on her thumb in early August and could be expected to play if not in New York then by the playoffs. Earlier in the season, Delle Donne faced a high ankle sprain that put her out for some time as well.
Cloud injured her hip in the third quarter against Phoenix last Friday after finally coming back from a partial plantar fascia tear in her right foot.
Getting that fourth seed in the playoffs is must needed for Washington giving them more time to mesh together and rest for injured players.