The Washington Mystics pulled out a "must-win" game last night, kicking it into third gear and defeating the Connecticut Sun 84-74. The Suns have been creeping up on the Mystics as of late, and the victory not only established distance between the two team, but placed the Mystics only two games out of first place behind the Indiana Fever, with five games left to play.
Of those remaining five games, the Mystics will most likely need to take two in order to assure themselves a playoff spot. Two opponents left on the schedule, the Minnesota Lynx and the San Antonio Silver Stars, look eminently beatable. The Seattle Storm will be a tough test for the Mystics as they possess the WNBA's best record at 25-4, while the games against the New York Liberty and and Atlanta Dream will have direct seeding implications towards playoff seeding.
The goal for the Mystics at this point in the season should be to finish strong, and more importantly, to stay healthy. The Mystics were a feel-good story last year, as they finished the season on a tear, and gave the Indiana Fever all they could handle in the playoffs before bowing out. This year, despite the absence of Alana Beard, I believe that more is expected of the team. There can be no more sleepwalking through games or periods of erratic play which has defined the team as of late. During my interview with Mystics GM Angela Taylor, she spoke of establishing a winning mentality within the team. If that winning mentality has truly taken hold, then the Mystics should be able to see the finish line, and swat aside those opponents who would try to keep them from reaching it.