clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How the WNBA's regular season scheduling and postseason format changes affect the Mystics

The WNBA will have a major shake up in regular season scheduling and postseason format.

Stewart W. Small

The WNBA had a lot of news on Thursday when they announced the regular season schedule which tips off on May 14, 2016. It wasn't that the schedule was released. Rather, it was the changes this season that sparked the most discussion.

Regular season scheduling changes

The WNBA has now reformatted its 34-game regular season scheduling to the following:

Every team will play each other three times. With the six teams in the opposing conference, three teams will consist of two away matches and one home match, and the other three teams will have two home matches and one away match. A similar format will occur with each of the five teams in the same conference of any particular team.

There will be four matches against one opponent in the same conference. The Mystics will face the Chicago Sky four times this season.

The Mystics' 2016 regular season schedule

The Mystics' regular season schedule is below. Note that there is a month-long break between late July to late August because of the Olympics.

Date Opponent Time (ET)
Saturday, May 14, 2016 New York Liberty 7 p.m.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016 Dallas Wings 7 p.m.
Friday, May 20, 2016 Los Angeles Sparks 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 21, 2016 at Connecticut Sun 7 p.m.
Thursday, May 26, 2016 at Seattle Storm 10 p.m.
Sunday, May 29, 2016 at Phoenix Mercury 6 p.m.
Wednesday, June 1, 2016 Chicago Sky 7 p.m.
Friday, June 3, 2016 at Chicago Sky 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 5, 2016 at Atlanta Dream 3 p.m.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016 at Dallas Wings 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 11, 2016 Minnesota Lynx 7 p.m.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at Connecticut Sun 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 18, 2016 Atlanta Dream 7 p.m.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016 Indiana Fever 7 p.m.
Friday, June 24, 2016 Phoenix Mercury 7 p.m.
Sunday, June 26, 2016 Minnesota Lynx 4 p.m.
Wednesday, June 29, 2016 San Antonio Stars 11:30 a.m.
Friday, July 1, 2016 at Chicago Sky 8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 6, 2016 at San Antonio Stars 8 p.m.
Sunday, July 10, 2016 at Los Angeles Sparks 7 p.m.
Wednesday, July 13, 2016 at Phoenix Mercury 3:30 p.m.
Friday, July 15, 2016 at Seattle Storm 10 p.m.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016 New York Liberty 11:30 a.m.
Friday, July 22, 2016 Los Angeles Sparks 7 p.m.
Saturday, August 27, 2016 at Indiana Fever 7 p.m.
Sunday, August 28, 2016 San Antonio Stars 7 p.m.
Friday, September 2, 2016 at Minnesota Lynx 8 p.m.
Sunday, September 4, 2016 at Dallas Wings 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday, September 7, 2016 Chicago Sky 7 p.m.
Friday, September 9, 2016 Seattle Storm 7 p.m.
Sunday, September 11, 2016 Indiana Fever 4 p.m.
Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at New York Liberty 7 p.m.
Thursday, September 15, 2016 at Atlanta Dream 7 p.m.
Sunday, September 18, 2016 Connecticut Sun 4 p.m.

Postseason format changes

The WNBA made the biggest news with its postseason format changes. The league will still have eight playoff teams, but they will be the league's eight best teams on regular season record.

In the 2015 season, there were three seasons of playoff formats. But now there will be four rounds of playoff games that will consist of the top two team getting byes while the next six teams get into a single-elimination playoff tournament for those other two semifinals spots. The WNBA semifinals and Finals will turn into a best of five series.

Analysis on these changes from the Mystics' perspective

More games against the West balance Washington's strength of schedule - This format gives the Mystics a more accurate representation of where they stand in the league. They have performed quite well against the West over the past three seasons with Mike Thibault as their head coach, so if anything, this could help them.

In fact, Washington had the same regular season record as the second-seeded team in the East in 2013 and 2014 but their worse in-conference schedule hurt their seeding. That's kind of funny because they otherwise have played very well against Western Conference opponents in each of the last three seasons.

The Mystics have no nationally televised 2016 regular season games - The league released its list of nationally televised and the Mystics aren't in it. This isn't particularly surprising.

Like the NBA, the WNBA wants to air games that will have the maximum amount of ratings and showcase its biggest stars. Unfortunately, the Mystics don't have any of those types of players on their team.

I know we have focused quite a bit on Emma Meesseman in recent weeks. However, we are not the majority.

Most casual WNBA fans probably don't give a damn about Meesseman because they aren't from D.C., Belgium, Russia, or maybe France and the Netherlands. But that's their problem, not ours.

Bottom line, I would love to see Meesseman show out next season and I don't mean to put her in a negative light. But until she shows out and literally forces her way into the superstar conversation, you can't blame the WNBA for not playing any Mystics games on national television until they are in the playoffs.

Mystics attendance may increase a little in 2016 due to the increase of Western Conference opponents - The WNBA's most popular teams have come from the Western Conference over the course of its history. With some Western Conference opponents -- most notably the Minnesota Lynx -- coming to Verizon Center twice this season, there may be more fans this year at Verizon Center this year over previous seasons.

Either way, the Mystics could find themselves with a superstar sooner rather than later - If you don't think that that Meesseman is a superstar in the making, this new scheduling format could help Washington in the long run. Really, if Meesseman doesn't take a big step forward and the rest of the young core doesn't improve with her, they are `going to lose more games this season. .

If you don't consider Meesseman a superstar in the making, the Mystics are arguably the only team without such a player. And without a superstar, it's harder for Washington to get favorable calls and ultimately win games. By playing more games against the deeper Western Conference, it is more likely that they will lose more games and find themselves out of the postseason more often than not in the next two to three seasons.

Should that happen, the Mystics will get some additional help to bolster their rotation since their highest overall draft pick in any year is Tayler Hill, the fourth pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft.

These are the quick takes that I have right now on the Mystics' 2016 regular season schedule and what implications the new changes these have on them. Do you agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below.