Down the Stretch They Come
Magic Number at 2
It has been quite some time since using the word playoffs and Mystics in the same sentence, but that time has come. With less than two weeks left in the regular season, the Mystics magic number sits at 2. For those unfamiliar with the term magic number, it simply means that any combination of Mystics wins or Liberty losses will reduce that number by one. Once the number is 0 then the Mystics are heading to the post-season. Which means that if the Mystics beat the Sun on Friday and the Liberty lose to the Dream, the Mystics will have clinched a playoff birth!
As the Eastern Conference standings currently stand, the Mystics sit in third place, 0.5 game ahead of the fourth place Indiana Fever, 3.5 games ahead of the fifth place New York Liberty, and 1.5 games behind the second place Atlanta Dream. The Chicago Sky have already sealed the one seed in the Eastern Conference and the Connecticut Sun have been mathematically eliminated. The top four teams in each conference make the playoffs.
This means that three teams are now vying for two spots, though the Liberty’s playoff hopes are dwindling with just four games left. They will likely need to win the rest of their games and get help from either the Mystics or the Fever. Barring this unlikely sequence of events to unfold, the Dream, Mystics, and Fever will be wrestling each other for seeding down the stretch. While it appears Atlanta will end up as the #2 seed, they still have four of their final six games (including their final three) on the road, where they have struggled all season (3-10). This could potentially open the door for either the Mystics or Fever to sneak into the second spot and host the first round of the playoffs.
The Mystics close out the season with their final five games against Eastern Conference foes. They still play the Sun (7-22) two more times, the Liberty (11-19) and Sky (21-8) once more at home, and the Fever (13-15) once more on the road. Any two wins will guarantee them a playoff spot, regardless of what any other team does during the final stretch.
The Mystics have not seen the post-season since 2010, but if they can take care of business in this final month, they will once again be back in the dance.
Stay tuned as the season unwinds!