The New York Liberty will enter the WNBA playoffs as one of the favorites to win the championship.
But on Sunday afternoon, the Washington Mystics will be the team taking the court with its postseason seeding still up in the air.
The Liberty will look to extend their winning streak and the Mystics will seek to enter the playoffs on a high note Sunday, when New York hosts Washington in the regular-season finale.
The Liberty won their eighth straight game Thursday, when Breanna Stewart scored 25 points to lead four players in double figures as New York overcame a 14-point deficit to beat the visiting Los Angeles Sparks 96-89. The Mystics fell Friday night to the visiting Atlanta Dream 80-75.
The Liberty’s hopes of earning the No. 1 seed in the playoffs lessened when the defending champion Las Vegas Aces (33-6) beat the Phoenix Mercury 94-73. New York (32-7) would be the No. 2 seed and is slated to begin the playoffs next Friday by hosting the opener of a best-of-three series.
The win over the Sparks served as an appropriate preparation for New York, which has won four games this season in which it trailed by at least 14 points.
“I think it shows what we’re capable of doing,” said Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, whose four 3-pointers on Thursday gave her 124 this year, breaking the WNBA single-season record held by Diana Taurasi. “When we get in the playoffs and we get into a situation like that, it’s not going to be new to us.”
A win by the Liberty over the Mystics (18-21) would ensure a playoff rematch next week. Washington could still climb to the No. 6 seed depending on how the Dream and Minnesota Lynx fare Sunday against the Dallas Wings and Indiana Fever, respectively.
Head coach Eric Thibault hinted Friday that the Mystics — who have won as many as three straight games just once this season and will enter the postseason without point guard Kristi Toliver (torn ACL) — will approach Sunday’s finale with a postseason-like intensity.
“I don’t think we can roll into the playoffs playing like we did tonight, rest a bunch of people and think we’ll be fine,” Thibault said.
—Field Level Media
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