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The Mystics regain a Top-4 seed for the playoffs and have a relatively easy remaining schedule

Yesterday’s win over the Aces and the Chicago Sky’s loss to the Wings could help set the Mystics up for a more ideal seed in the playoffs.

Las Vegas Aces v Washington Mystics
Alysha Clark and the Washington Mystics are getting closer to a Top-4 berth (maybe even Top-3?)
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

The Washington Mystics have a 20-12 record after defeating the Las Vegas Aces last night. The win also gives them a half game lead over the Seattle Storm for the fourth seed in the WNBA Playoff standings. Let’s update where each of the Top-5 teams are, who they have to play and what the most ideal path for Washington is.

The Mystics have one more top tier team left on the schedule!

Seattle Storm v Washington Mystics
Ariel Atkins, Mike Thibault and the Mystics are hitting their stride at the right time.
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

Record: 20-12, 4th in the WNBA

Rankings: 8th ranked offense, 1st ranked defense

Like the rest of you, I’m looking at the standings and results every day. The most important team to look at is our own. Washington already controlled their playoff destiny in terms of making the playoffs in and of itself. But they can still clinch a Top-4 berth (or perhaps even better) if they take care of business with their last games:

  • Aug. 5, at Sky
  • Aug. 7 vs. Sparks
  • Aug. 12 at Fever
  • Aug. 14 vs. Fever

This Friday’s game against Chicago is their toughest test given that the Sky have one of the best offenses and defenses in the league. It’s also one of their big rivalry games given that both teams’ franchise players have once worn the other team’s uniforms and that one European country almost unanimously switched sides on us.

Yeah, the Sky get under my skin. (Not their fans! Just the team.)

But anyway, Washington’s remaining three games after the Sky are all against teams in the lottery (Fever) or fighting to stay alive (Sparks). And the Sparks game will certainly come with an interesting storyline.

LA is currently in 9th place and could be in a position where they lose their 2023 first round draft pick to the Mystics after Washington traded the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft for the No. 3 and No. 14 picks from the Dream, plus the right to swap first round picks in the 2023 draft with that pick coming from Atlanta, but originally from the Sparks in a separate deal. In short, the Sparks could be in the lottery and see what was their original pick go to Washington.

If Washington wins on Friday and can take of business in their last three games by not slacking off or resting all their starters, you never know, the Mystics could find themselves with a Top-3 ... or even a ... Top-2 seed! A lot of teams are wishing their schedule is made of cream puffs like the Mystics right now!

No. 1 Chicago Sky

Las Vegas Aces v Chicago Sky - 2022 Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game
Emma Meesseman and the Sky have the exact opposite kind of schedule that the Mystics do.
Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

Record: 23-8, 1st in the WNBA

Rankings: 3rd ranked offense, 4th ranked defense

The Sky may be the top team in the standings with a 23-8 record and they may have three Belgians on the team in various capacities. B

ut they have a rough schedule ahead made up of anything but ... Belgian cream puffs:

  • Aug. 5, vs. Mystics
  • Aug. 7 vs. Sun
  • Aug. 9 vs. Storm
  • Aug. 11 at Aces
  • Aug. 15 at Mercury

All five games the Sky have remaining are against playoff-bound or likely playoff-bound teams in the case of the Mercury. Since the Sky are the defending WNBA champions AND are the deepest team in the league, they’re getting every opponent’s best shot, including the Mystics’ on Friday.

That said, I don’t think the Mystics are in an optimal position to beat the Sky in a playoff series and hope they don’t meet in a potential second round matchup. Also, the Sky lost last night to the Dallas Wings, and that could clear up the team’s minds and make the Mystics the target of their ire.

No. 2 Las Vegas Aces

Las Vegas Aces v Washington Mystics
Kelsey Plum and the Aces have a strong team, but the Mystics have their number.
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

Record: 22-9

Rankings: 1st ranked offense, 6th ranked defense

The Mystics earned their season sweep of the Aces yesterday, and this team would be the ideal second-round match for them for that reason. That said, let’s see what the future holds for Vegas.

  • Aug. 4 at Wings
  • Aug. 7 at Storm
  • Aug. 9 vs. Dream
  • Aug. 11 vs. Sky
  • Aug. 14 vs. Storm

Like the Sky, the Aces have a remaining schedule of teams that are made of mostly playoff teams. The two games against the Storm could ultimately decide where Vegas (and Seattle) land with their playoff seeding.

No. 3 Connecticut Sun

Connecticut Sun v Minnesota Lynx Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Record: 21-10, 3rd in the WNBA

Rankings: 2nd ranked offense, 3rd ranked defense

The Sun have a remaining schedule that is almost as easy as the Mystics

  • Aug. 4 vs. Mercury
  • Aug. 7 vs. Sky
  • Aug. 9 at Sparks
  • Aug. 11 at Sparks
  • Aug. 14 vs. Lynx

With the exception of the Sky game on Sunday, the Sun have a very good chance of getting a Top-2 seed. Washington lost the tiebreaker to the Sun previously this season so it’s unlikely that the Mystics will finish with a better seed, especially considering that the Sun have a relatively easier schedule.

No. 5 Seattle Storm

Dallas Wings v Seattle Storm Photo by Joshua Huston/NBAE via Getty Images

Record: 19-12, 5th in the WNBA

Rankings: 7th ranked offense, 2nd ranked defense

Seattle holds the tiebreaker against the Mystics, but their remaining schedule includes three games against the Sky or Aces.

  • Aug. 3 vs. Lynx
  • Aug. 7 vs. Aces
  • Aug. 9 at Sky
  • Aug. 12 at Lynx
  • Aug. 14 at Aces

Given that the Mystics have a relatively easier schedule remaining and the Storm still has three tough games remaining, I’m thinking that Washington will finish with a better record than Seattle. That said, I don’t see the Storm losing out this season either and the Aces won’t have an easy time with the Storm’s defense, which is the best in the league after the Mystics’.

What does all of this mean?

The Mystics are fourth place in the standings, but after looking at the other top tier teams’ remaining schedules, Washington has about as ideal of a schedule heading into the postseason, so long as they don’t write off the Fever in the last two games. I don’t see them surpassing Connecticut in any circumstance, but the Mystics have a shot to get a coveted Top-3 seed if things play out right.