Friday, August 12, 2005

WNBA: Connecticut Sun 80, Mystics 65 (August 11)

WAS: 14-13 (3rd in East, 7.5 behind Connecticut, 2 behind Indiana, tied with New York, 1 ahead of Detroit).

The Mystics had their hands full with the East's best team last night at MCI Center and dropped back into a tie for third place after their loss to the Connecticut Sun.

All five Connecticut starters scored in double figures, led by Nykesha Sales' 20 points. Taj McWilliams-Franklin grabbed 10 rebounds to help the cause.

Alana Beard led the Mystics with 18 points, but Washington couldn't overcome the balanced attack from the Sun.

Washington was only down four at the half, but the Sun ran away with it in the second half, outscoring the Mystics 42-29.

With seven games left in the season, the Mystics are now tied for third place with New York in the Eastern standings and are only one game ahead of fifth-place Detroit, who beat Minnesota yesterday.

The Mystics get the Sun again on Sunday afternoon at 4:00, this time in Connecticut.

What seemed like a near certain playoff berth just days ago now hangs in the balance, because a Detroit win over Minnesota coupled with this Mystics loss has made the difference between in and out just one game with seven games to play.

Unfortunately, the Mystics now have to face this same Connecticut team on Sunday, while Detroit faces the miserable San Antonio Silver Stars on Saturday.

Detroit's remaining schedule stacks up favorably over the Mystics, as Washington faces five teams over .500 in their remaining games (two against Connecticut, 22-6; two against New York, 14-13; and one against Indiana, 16-11), with the only two others coming in crucial match-ups against Detroit.

Detroit has four of their final seven games against sub-.500 teams (San Antonio, 7-22; Phoenix, 12-13; Los Angeles, 12-15; and Charlotte, 4-23). They do have one game against second-place Indiana (16-11), and the two huge games against the Mystics.

New York also has a very favorable remaining schedule, playing the laughable 4-23 Charlotte Sting three more times.

With these schedules, the Mystics are going to have to play excellent basketball to earn a playoff spot. Obviously, the biggest games of the Mystics' remaining schedule are the two against Detroit and the two against New York because those are the teams jockeying with the Mystics for the last two playoff spots in the East. However, they are way bigger for Washington because those are the Mystics' most winnable games.

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