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Mystics carry playoff hopes into road game with Mercury

May 19, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Mystics guard Brittney Sykes (15) shoots the ball against the New York Liberty at Entertainment & Sports Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Mystics try to avoid a lost road trip Tuesday when they visit the Phoenix Mercury for a matchup with major playoff implications for Washington.

The Mystics (17-20) dropped the first two legs of their West Coast swing, 84-75 at WNBA-leading Las Vegas on Thursday and 72-64 at Los Angeles on Sunday.

Washington’s setback at Los Angeles pulled the Sparks within a game of the Mystics in the playoff race with both teams having three games remaining. Washington and Los Angeles are among four teams jockeying for the final three places in the postseason.

Chicago, the last team out through games played Sunday, is just a game behind Los Angeles for the last berth and two behind the Mystics and Atlanta Dream.

“We had a chance to control our fate, in a sense, and give us some cushion when it comes to these last couple games,” Brittney Sykes told the Washington Post following the game. “There’s no pressure in one big game. This was just a game where we had an extra opportunity to get a solidified spot in the playoffs.”

Sunday’s loss also came with another price for Washington, as Kristi Tolliver exited with a knee injury. With Ariel Atkins and Shakira Austin already sidelined, depth is a concern for the Mystics in the final stretch.

Atkins suffered a fractured nose, taking an elbow against Las Vegas, and Austin reinjured her hip against the Aces.

Phoenix (9-28) is eliminated from postseason contention and at the bottom of the WNBA amid an eight-game losing streak. This season marks the end of a 10-year run of playoff appearances for the organization.

“Basketball is cyclical, and I guess it’s our turn to kind of be in this situation,” Diana Taurasi told reporters last Thursday. “It’s tough, but I’ve been really proud of this group.”

Sunday’s 86-73 setback at Minnesota extended Phoenix’s run of games scoring 76 points or fewer to eight.

The Mercury are dealing with their own personnel issues, as Sophie Cunningham (jaw), Taurasi (toe) and Shey Peddy (concussion) were all listed as out as of Monday.

–Field Level Media