The Washington Mystics have secured playoff berths in back-to-back years for the second time in franchise history but will likely still have plenty of motivation for their regular-season finale.
The Mystics are seeking home-court advantage in the first round of the postseason and would boost their chances with a win over the eliminated New York Liberty on Saturday night.Washington (16-17) guaranteed its return to the postseason with a 71-67 victory in Connecticut on Friday and ended New York's hopes. The Liberty (13-19) will miss the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time while the Mystics will make back-to-back appearances after missing out in 2011 and 2012."Man, this locker room is happy," Mystics guard Ivory Latta said.While its next opponent is playing for pride, Washington still has an opportunity to finish second in the East. The Mystics currently lead Chicago and Indiana by a half-game for that spot.The Sky and Fever play each other Saturday night. If Washington wins, the loser of that game will finish fourth.Even with a victory over New York, the Mystics will need some help on Sunday to finish ahead of the winning team in Saturday's game in Indiana. They split the season series with the Sky and Fever, and their 11-10 record in conference play is worse than Chicago's 14-7 and Indiana's 11-9.The Sky host San Antonio on the final day of the regular season Sunday while Indiana visits New York.Washington will try to boost its chances of avoiding that second tiebreaker with a fourth consecutive home win over New York, which has lost three straight. After dropping their two road games in this season's series, the Mystics blew out the Liberty 79-46 in the nation's capital Aug. 5 and outshot them 51.7 to 28.8 percent.Latta had a team-best 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting in that game and scored another 16 in Friday's win, matching Emma Meesseman for the team lead. Latta is averaging 16.1 points in her last 10 games after averaging 11.3 in her first 23.Tina Charles was the only Liberty player to score in double figures in the loss at Washington earlier this month with 10. She recorded her 17th double-double of the season (15 points, 10 rebounds) in a 76-63 loss at Indiana on Thursday, tying Tulsa's Glory Johnson for the league lead.