But before we get to that, here's a goofy video of the Mystics and their pet dogs, via D.C. Sports Bog.
Okay, now that we got out of the way, let's discuss serious stuff. The Mystics are in the playoffs as of right now. At 20-12, they've already set a franchise record for wins. Now, it's all about seeding, and tonight's game against the New York Liberty will go a long way toward deciding that.
No team in the WNBA is playing better than the Liberty right now. (Yes, even the Seattle Storm). The Liberty beat the Tulsa Shock the other night for their 10th straight win, and are one game ahead of the Mystics for second place in the East. The second-place team, of course, gets home-court advantage in a best-of-three first-round series, which is significant. You wouldn't want to return home for your first playoff game and face elimination, would you?
Well, a win tonight will go a long way toward wrapping up home-court advantage. The Mystics would technically still have a chance to get the two seed if they lose tonight, but it's a longshot, so a win is paramount. As Katie Carrera of the Washington Post notes:
If Washington defeats both the Liberty (21-11 after Thursday's 95-85 win over Tulsa) and Dream (19-14) it is guaranteed to finish as at least the second seed in the East with home-court advantage. While the Mystics and New York could still close the regular season with identical 22-12 records, a Washington victory Friday night would give the Mystics the first tiebreaker over New York with a better head-to-head record. The season series between the two teams stands at 2-2 heading into the game.
Should the Mystics lose to New York, they would need to beat Atlanta on Sunday and also have Indiana (21-11) lose its two remaining contests to leapfrog into the second spot by virtue of tiebreakers against the Dream and Fever to gain home court.
The players and coaches are all giving the requisite "we don't care what our seed is" platitudes, but home-court advantage matters for this team. The Mystics are 12-4 at home this year, including a big win over Seattle, and just 8-8 on the road. The thought of opening away from the Verizon Center against a team as strong as New York or the Indiana Fever is pretty daunting. At home? Much less daunting.
In other words, if you're rooting for more home playoff games, you're rooting for a win tonight. It won't be easy, not against the hottest team in the league, but it will be necessary.