Heading into the final day of the 2013 WNBA season, the teams heading to the post-season have been decided. However, the matchups in the Eastern Conference have not.
The simple breakdown:
The Chicago Sky have clinched the one seed
The Atlanta Dream have clinched the two seed
The Mystics will clinch the three seed with a win today + a Fever OR a Dream loss. If this were to happen, the Mystics would play the Dream in the first round of the playoffs.
The Mystics will clinch the four seed with either a loss today, or a win + a Fever AND Dream win. If this were to happen, the Mystics would play the Sky in the first round of the playoffs.
The complicated breakdown:
If you don't care about how the tie-breakers work and just want to know where the team will be based on today's result, just see the above and stop reading now. But, if you want to know why the Mystics will be the three or four seed, try and follow along.
Entering today, the Mystics and Fever are tied at 16-17. The first tie-breaker is based on head-to-head play and the season series is tied at 2-2. Next, it goes to conference play record, where the Mystics enter today at 9-12 and the Fever are 11-10. Therefore, in a head-to-head tie-breaker, the Fever would finish ahead of the Mystics.
But there's more.
Atlanta enters today at 17-16, which means if they were to lose today and the Mystics AND Fever both win, all three teams would finish the year at 17-17. This is where it gets tricky. In a three-way tie, the tie-break formula is different than head-to-head. The way to break a three-way tie is to take the total record of all games played amongst the teams that are tied. So, the Dream are 6-3 vs. the Mystics and Fever, which is why they have already clinched the two seed. The Mystics would be next at 4-5, while the Fever would be 3-5. Because the Mystics would have that half game advantage in games between all three tied teams, they would in fact move ahead of the Fever in the case of a three-way tie.
It is a little complicated, but this is the breakdown of what could happen as we conclude the 2013 season.
The Fever play the Sun at 1pm in Connecticut, the Mystics host the Liberty at 4pm, and the Dream play in San Antonio at 4:30pm.
Playoff times and dates will be announced soon.