Guest Contributor – Andrew Willett
The Washington Mystics have been given some time to rest with the playoffs fast approaching, so let’s break down some playoff scenarios under the new playoff format. Washington is currently in the middle of its longest break of the season with six days off between games. The hiatus occurs due to the WNBA Commissioners Cup (CC) championship game before the regular season ends in time for the August 17 playoffs.
The Mystics are fifth in the standings at 17-11, winning six of eight games and three of four since the All-Star break. The team is four games behind first-place Chicago Sky and holds a 4.5-game lead over sixth-place Los Angeles Sparks, nearly locking out a top-five seed. With eight games remaining, the Mystics are trying to climb the ladder to seize home-court advantage for postseason basketball.
of the commissioner Cup Championship
The Commissioner’s Cup presented by Coinbase was held for a second year as the WNBA’s annual season tournament. Each team played ten Commissioners Cup games, two each against their five conference opponents. This means that ten games at the start of the regular season also had the weight of a Commissioners Cup game. At the end of the Commissioner’s Cup game, the team with the highest winning percentage in each conference faces off in the championship game for a cash prize. Washington has been slightly below the Commissioners Cup standings with a 5-5 record in the tournament. But since they are excluded from the race for the Commissioners Cup, the team has been able to focus heavily on their end to the regular season and their push towards the playoffs.
Put a bow on the regular season
Washington has received some rest, but a busy three-game week awaits the team. Over the past three weeks, the Mystics’ schedule includes four tough games against teams ahead of them in the standings and six straight games, against teams currently in the playoffs, before two games against Indiana Fever. This week, Washington travels to Dallas to face the Wings ahead of a back-to-back home series against the Seattle Storm. Next, the team wraps up the homestand against the Las Vegas Aces in their fourth game in six days, before a trip to Chicago to take on the Sky. After that streak, the Mystics will face the Los Angeles Sparks at home before heading to Indiana for a road game and another at home against the Fever to close out the season.
While a move to the top seed seems unlikely for the Mystics, the top five seeds each go one game apart. That means fifth-seeded Washington is one game behind Seattle in fourth, two games behind the Connecticut Sun for third and three games behind Las Vegas for second. As part of the WNBA’s new playoff format this season, the top eight teams will advance to the playoffs by creating four best-of-three first-round series, 1st vs. 8th, 2nd vs. 7th, 3rd vs. 6th and 4th vs. 5th. . The top four seeds will each get home court advantage for the first round, with the highest seed taking home court in each series from then on, as the sole seed could control the court. at home throughout the playoffs. Washington could make a bid for a home spot if they continue their impressive long-term play.
Potential playoff matchups
If Washington retains fifth place or edges out Seattle in fourth place, the Mystics will face the Storm in the first round of the playoffs. This makes the next game in a row even more important, because facing a Seattle team in Sue Bird’s senior year would become even more difficult without home court advantage. This scenario would lead to a second-round fight against the winner of the first-round 1/8 series, most likely without a ground against the number one seed, defending champion Chicago Sky.
If Washington can somehow edge Seattle and Connecticut for third place in the standings, the Mystics would secure home-court advantage in the first round as well. That route includes avoiding a first-round game against another top-five team as the Mystics take on sixth-seeded Los Angeles at present. This would most likely lead to a second-round game against second-seeded Las Vegas, which would hold the ground at home.
The best-case scenario for Washington is to propel the seeding into second place, securing home-court advantage for two series, as the first and second seeds hold home-court advantage once they advance to the semis. -finals. At that time, the second seed will face seventh seed Dallas in the first round before a potential matchup with the winner of the 3/6 series.
While moving up to those top seeds would be incredibly difficult with eight games left in the season, crazier things have happened. Regardless, Washington will carry on as the team continues to ramp up throughout the season. Check out the Commissioner’s Cup championship on Amazon Prime Video at 8:30 p.m. ET before the Mystics return to action in what could be a wild end to the regular season.