Mystics Insider Blog
Guest Contributor – Andrew Willett
The Washington Mystics received some time to rest with the postseason just around the corner, so let’s break down some postseason scenarios under the new playoff format. Washington currently sits in the middle of its longest break of the season with six days off between games. The hiatus occurs due to the WNBA Commissioner’s Cup (CC) Championship game before the regular season wraps up in time for the playoffs on August 17th.
The Mystics sits fifth in the standings at 17-11, they’ve won six of eight games and three of four since the All-Star break. The team falls four games behind the first-place Chicago Sky and holds a 4.5-game lead over the sixth-place Los Angeles Sparks, nearly locking up a top-five seed. With eight games remaining, the Mystics attempts to move up the standings to capture home-court advantage for postseason basketball.
Commissioner’s Cup Championship
The Commissioner’s Cup presented by Coinbase occurred for a second year as the WNBA’s annual in-season tournament. Each team played ten Commissioner’s Cup games, two apiece against its five conference opponents. That means ten games at the start of the regular season also held the weight of a Commissioner’s Cup game. At the end of Commissioner’s Cup play, the team with the highest winning percentage in each conference faces off in the Championship Game for a cash prize. Washington fell a little short in the Commissioner’s Cup Standings going 5-5 in the tournament. But with them being out of the Commissioner’s Cup race, the team has been able to focus heavily on their end to the regular and their push into the playoffs.
Put a Bow on the Regular Season
Washington received some rest, but a busy three-game week awaits the squad. Over the final three weeks, the Mystics’ schedule includes four tough games against teams ahead of it in the standings and six straight matchups, against teams currently in the playoffs, before two games against the Indiana Fever. This week, Washington travels to Dallas to face the Wings before a back-to-back home series vs. the Seattle Storm. Then, the team wraps up the homestand against the Las Vegas Aces in its fourth game in six days, prior to a trip to Chicago to face the Sky. Following that stretch, the Mystics will play the Los Angeles Sparks at home before traveling to Indiana for one game on the road and one more back home vs. the Fever to close the season.
While a move to the top-seed seems unlikely for the Mystics, the top-five seeds each fall one game apart. Meaning fifth-seed Washington sits one game back of Seattle in fourth, two games back of the Connecticut Sun for third, and three games behind Las Vegas for second. Under the WNBA’s new playoff format this season, the top eight teams will make the postseason 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 higher seed taking homecourt in each series from then on out as the one-seed could control home court throughout the postseason. Washington could bid for a homecourt spot if it continues its impressive play down the stretch.
Potential Playoff Matchups
If Washington maintains its spot in fifth or moves ahead of Seattle to fourth place, the Mystics will face the Storm in the playoff’s first round. That makes the upcoming back-to-back even more important as facing a Seattle team in Sue Bird’s last year would become even more challenging without home court advantage. This scenario would lead to a second-round bout against the winner of the 1/8 first-round series, most likely without homecourt against the number one seed, defending champion Chicago Sky.
If Washington can somehow move ahead of both Seattle and Connecticut for third in the standings, the Mystics would also secure homecourt advantage in the first round. This route includes avoiding a first-round matchup against another top-five team as the Mystics would face off against sixth-seed Los Angeles, at present. This would most likely lead to a second-round matchup against second-seed Las Vegas who would hold homecourt.
The best-case scenario for Washington is propelling up the standings to second, securing homecourt advantage for two series as both the first and second seeds hold homecourt advantage once advancing to the semifinals. At this moment, 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 seeds would be incredibly challenging with eight games left in the season, crazier things have happened. Regardless, Washington will press on as the team continues to ramp up down the stretch of the season. Check out the Commissioner’s Cup Championship on Amazon Prime Video at 8:30 p.m. ET before the Mystics get back into action in what could be a wild finish to the regular season.