The Washington Mystics lost last night to the Connecticut Sun, and they now have a 15-18 record. They remain seventh place in the standings, but there are just seven games left, mostly against top tier competition.
Two of their next three games are against the Las Vegas Aces (Aug. 26 and Aug. 31). They play the sixth-place Minnesota Lynx (Aug. 29) in between each of their remaining Aces games. I’m not confident they will win more than one of these three games.
After this stretch, the Mystics will play the Los Angeles Sparks on the road on Sept. 3. LA is in eighth place and will likely play at full strength as they are in a similar position as the Mystics. That game will be followed up with a match against the Phoenix Mercury on Sept. 5. Washington will be favored against them, considering that the Mercury are 11th in the standings.
On Friday, Sept. 8, the Mystics will play against the fifth place Atlanta Dream for their home finale, followed by their regular-season finale against the New York Liberty on Sunday, Sept. 10. Since the Aces are 3.5 games ahead of the Liberty, don’t be surprised to see the home team take advantage of “load management.”
In short, the Mystics have a tough remaining schedule, and I don’t expect to see them move up very much in the standings. The Aces locked up their playoff berth a while back, but I would expect them to go full force until they clinch the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, which may be at the Mystics’ expense.
As for their remaining games, they will be playing against other teams that are also looking to improve their playoff position. In a year where injuries derailed a team that was once considered a dark horse championship contender, I just have to ask this question out loud: Is it better for the Mystics to miss the playoffs instead of face a likely first round sweep against the Aces or Liberty?