The Washington Mystics beat the Atlanta Dream 85-78 behind 26 points from Ariel Atkins to clinch a spot in the WNBA playoffs on the final day of the regular season.

WNBA Playoffs Washington Mystics
The Washington Mystics finished the regular season on a four-game winning streak to make the WNBA playoffs. (Image: Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty)

The defending champions won their final four games in a row to finish 9-13, beating out the Dallas Wings (8-14) and the Dream (7-15) for the final position.

Late Season Push Propels Mystics to WNBA Playoffs

The Mystics began the season 3-0, but suffered through a 1-12 stretch that nearly eliminated the team from playoff contention. Washington made its playoff run despite missing reigning WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne, who sat out the season due to medical concerns.

“The work we’ve done the last few weeks when most teams would have quit has paid off,” Mystics coach Mike Thibault said after Sunday’s win. “It’s a great, great testament to how they’ve hung in. It’s just a wonderful feeling anytime you win. But to do it how we’ve done to get in, it’s a great feeling.”

The Mystics will take on the Phoenix Mercury (13-9) in the first round on Tuesday. Phoenix went 2-0 against the Mystics during the regular season. The other first-round matchup will see the No. 6 seed Chicago Sky (12-10) take on the No. 7 Connecticut Sun (10-12).

The WNBA playoffs utilize a format that’s particularly tough on lower seeds. The bottom four teams must battle through single-elimination games on Tuesday. The winners will then face off against the No. 3 Los Angeles Sparks (15-7) and No. 4 Minnesota Lynx (14-8) in a second round of win-or-go-home contests on Tuesday.

Aces, Storm Earn Double Byes to Semifinals

Only then do the survivors get to play in a best-of-five semifinal series. Meanwhile, the top two seeds in the league earn automatic byes to the semifinal round.

WNBA Championship Odds

  • Seattle Storm: +145
  • Las Vegas Aces: +450
  • Los Angeles Sparks: +500
  • Chicago Sky: +950
  • Phoenix Mercury: +1000
  • Minnesota Lynx: +1100
  • Washington Mystics: +1100
  • Connecticut Sun: +1300

Odds via PointsBet

The Las Vegas Aces (18-4) earned the No. 1 overall seed in the WNBA playoffs after winning their final six games to close out the regular season. The Aces beat the Seattle Storm (18-4) 86-84 on Sunday to earn that designation, knocking the Storm down to the No. 2 seed. Las Vegas won both regular-season meetings between the two teams, thus winning the top seed on tiebreakers.

“Who would have thunk it? We end up with the best record in the league for the regular season,” Aces coach Bill Laimbeer said after Sunday’s win. “To have this kind of success so far, we’ll take it. We realize we’ve won nothing; there’s a long way to go. But we put ourselves in position to get into a series with only four teams remaining.”

Despite coming in as the No. 2 seed, Seattle still enters the WNBA playoffs as the favorite to win the 2020 title. PointsBet lists the Storm as the +145 pick to win the WNBA championship, ahead of Las Vegas (+450) and Los Angeles (+500).

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