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The Mystics split two games over the weekend, continue long road trip this week

The Mystics split a pair of games over the weekend and are on the road all week against some tough opponents.

Stewart W. Small

The Mystics played two games over the weekend where they earne

First, they defeated the Phoenix Mercury 71-63 after Ivory Lata scored 24 points and dished 5 assists. In addition, Washington made 15 of 20 free throws while Phoenix only made 5 of 6 which was the difference maker in this contest. There was a lot of buzz about Brittney Griner throwing a dunk on the road, but the bottom line is that Washington got a crucial win in a stacked Eastern Conference. And the Mystics earned a 9-1 record against Western Conference teams.

On Sunday, they traveled to Seattle to play the Storm where they lost 69-59 thanks to some really cold shooting in the second half. Even worse, the Mystics were leading by 14 points early in the game. The killer was the second half as Seattle took it to the rack to make 22 of 25 free throws, more than the 20 points that the Mystics scored in each of the last two quarters.

The Mystics' performance over the past week seems to be a summary on how they have played at times this season. They can beat top tier opponents like the Minnesota Lynx or the defending champion Phoenix Mercury. But they can't beat other playoff teams in their own conference -- which is more important than beating the Lynx or Mercury -- AND they laid a dud in Seattle, who they should have beaten. Fortunately, the Storm isn't in the playoff picture, but again, that second half was tough to watch.

Playoff Picture: The first seed's pretty much out now, but homecourt advantage is still possible

In the Eastern Conference, the New York Liberty and Chicago Sky have clinched berths to the 2015 Playoffs. The Mystics are 16-12 and should punch their tickets later this week given that the Connecticut Sun is four games behind them for the fourth spot.

The Mystics are four games behind the first-place Liberty, but just one game behind the second-place Sky. So the bottom line is that Washington still has a legit shot at the second seed for the playoffs. Therefore, there's a lot to play for in D.C.

In the Western Conference, three of the four teams have been decided as the Minnesota Lynx, Phoenix Mercury, and Tulsa Shock have all clinched a berth. With the Storm and San Antonio Stars really struggling right now, expect them to be eliminated from postseason contention this week. There's a big prize waiting in next year's draft in the form of UConn senior Breanna Stewart.

BF's Mystics Player of the Week (August 24 - 30): Ivory Latta

Latta scored 24 points on Friday for the Mystics' big win over Phoenix. She also led all Mysticsscorers in Sunday's loss to the Storm with 12 more points.

Who do they play this week (August 31 - September 6)?

Date Team Time (ET) TV/Online
Wednesday, September 2 at Phoenix Mercury 3:30 p.m. NBA TV / WNBA Live Access
Thursday, September 3 at Los Angeles Sparks 10:30 p.m. NBA TV / WNBA Live Access
Sunday, September 6 at Atlanta Dream 3 p.m. NBA TV / WNBA Live Access

The Mystics are on the road all week, and no game is a guaranteed win. They will start this Wednesday against Brittney Griner and the Mercury, who would like to get some revenge for last Friday. On the very next day, they will play Candace Parker and the L.A. Sparks, who have turned their season around since she came back from resting the first half of the season. Next Sunday, Washington will face Atlanta, who they are 0-2 against during the regular season.

It won't be easy to go undefeated this week given who the Mystics play. But doing so will keep them alive in the race for homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.