It is put-up-or-shut-up time for the Washington Mystics and their push for a spot in the WNBA playoffs, with their game Sunday afternoon against the Indiana Fever at the Verizon Center in the nation's capital a crucial one.
The Mystics (12-18) find themselves on the outside of the postseason after Friday' 81-76 home loss to Seattle dropped Washington to ninth in the 12-team league, a game behind Phoenix. The top eight squads, regardless of conference, earn spots in the playoffs.
"You play the game, and when it ends you move on to the next one, same as we've been doing all season," Washington guard Natasha Cloud said after Friday's loss. "There's no time to be upset about this when we've got four games to focus on."
Indiana, conversely, is on a mini-run, winning back-to-back games to move into a tie for fifth in the league standings and just a game behind Atlanta in the quest for a first-round bye.
The Fever (15-15) jumped to even with Chicago with a 95-88 win over the Sky on Friday in Indianapolis as Briann January scored the final seven points for Indiana from the free throw line.
"The game wasn't as clean as we would like it to be -- there were too many turnovers and too many fouls -- but it's probably not going to be at this time of the year," Indianapolis coach Stephanie White said after the win over Chicago. "I'm proud of the grit of our team."
The Fever can secure a playoff berth by beating Washington on Sunday and have a shot at No. 4 because they own 2-1 tie-breakers over the other teams in contention for that seed: Atlanta (16-14), Chicago (15-4), Seattle (14-17) and Phoenix (13-17).
Indiana has earned a spot in the playoffs for a record 11 consecutive postseasons.
Washington has dominated the two games played between the teams this season, beating Indiana 76-62 at the Verizon Center on June 18 and rolling to a 92-69 win over the Fever in Indianapolis on Aug. 27.