Mystics clinch No. 7 Seed for WNBA Playoffs, will play the New York Liberty

The Washington Mystics will open up their 2023 WNBA Playoffs with a first-round matchup against the New York Liberty. The best-of-three-game series will tip off Friday night Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Brooklyn.  

Washington earned the No. 7 seed in the postseason by virtue of a 19-21 record following a trying season filled with injuries. For nearly a month, the team played without three of their starters – Shakira Austin, Elena Delle Donne and Ariel Atkins, plus bench player Kristi Toliver. Still, the healthy group and a handful of hardship players found ways to persevere and do just enough in their absence. 

New York – who was coined one of the league’s ‘super teams’ following offseason player movement – took the No. 2 overall seed at 32-8 and will have homecourt advantage for the first matchup. 

The two squads split the season series with the Mystics book-ending their season with victories against the Liberty. The season opener featured Washington showcasing their stout defense against New York’s firepower. Victory on the final day of the regular season came from a Brittney Sykes buzzer-beater and an all-around effort offensively. 

The three-game series will have a two-one format where the higher seed (New York) will host the first two games. If the lower seed (Washington) takes one of those first two games, the series-deciding winner-take-all contest will be on the lower seed’s home court. ESPN’s family of networks has the broadcast rights to all playoff games throughout the WNBA Playoffs. 

Here is the first-round schedule: 

Fri. Sept. 15 – Mystics at Liberty, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2) 

Tue. Sept. 19 – Mystics at Liberty, 7:00 p.m. ET (ESPN) 

Fri. Sept. 22 – Liberty at Mystics, TBD (ESPN2)* 

* – If necessary 

The Mystics will be without Toliver (torn ACL) for the duration of the postseason. Austin is also back on the injury report after re-aggravating her hip injury on Aug. 31, which has sidelined her for 21 games this season. Her status for the first round will be determined this week.  

Delle Donne paces the team with 16.7 points per game despite missing 17 contests. She fell just percentage points short of having just the second 50/40/90 season in WNBA history (Delle Donne earned the first in her 2019 MVP season). Offseason signing Sykes just completed one of the best seasons in Mystics history where she set new franchise records for points and steals in a season.  

Through the injury turmoil, several Washington players stepped up into larger roles and some were inserted into the starting lineup. The hope is that the experience and game reps gained helped get the bench players into a rhythm that will carry over into the playoffs.  

The winner will advance to the WNBA Semifinals and face the winner of the Connecticut Sun/ Minnesota Lynx matchup.