Sky-Mystics Preview

The Associated Press

While the Chicago Sky have secured the top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Washington Mystics have some work to do if they hope to qualify for the WNBA playoffs.

They'll might have to find a way to contain Sylvia Fowles to make that happen.

The Mystics will try to deal the Sky consecutive losses for the first time in more than a month Sunday while clinching a trip to the postseason against the team they could play in the opening round.

Washington (14-16) looks to bounce back by beating the Sky (21-9) for the third time in 15 meetings after failing to secure its first Eastern Conference playoff berth since 2010 in a 77-70 loss at league-worst Connecticut on Friday.

"I think we didn't look by (Connecticut) at all because we knew that we had a chance to clinch a playoff spot,'' said coach Mike Thibault, whose squad leads fifth-place New York by 3 1/2 games.

Although they're tied for third in the East with Indiana, the Mystics can miss the postseason with four straight losses and three consecutive wins by the Liberty. Should they end up with the fourth seed, the Mystics would play Chicago in the first round of the playoffs.

That could be a quick exit unless they figure out a way to slow Fowles, who has averaged 23.8 points and 14.3 boards while helping Chicago win three of four against Washington. The All-Star recorded a season-high 32 points and 15 rebounds in a 85-78 win on Aug. 2.

Star rookie Elena Delle Donne missed that contest because of a concussion, but returned after missing two games with a sprained foot to score a team-high 24 in a 79-73 win in the nation's capital on Aug. 20.

Fowles had a team-high 23 points and eight rebounds Friday against Indiana, but Delle Donne was held to 14 points as the Sky had their season-high six-game winning streak snapped in an 82-77 loss.

Chicago played without starting guard Courtney Vandersloot, who suffered an ankle injury before pregame warmups. Her status is uncertain as the Sky attempt to avoid consecutive losses for the first time since Aug. 3-6.

"We missed her a lot,'' Fowles said. "But even though Sloot wasn't out there, I don't think that's an excuse for us to not get the job done.''

Washington's Ivory Latta was held to 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting in the most recent meeting with the Sky, but she keyed the Mystics' lone win in this series with 18 points and a season-high 13 assists in an 82-78 home victory July 24.

Teammate Crystal Langhorne seeks her third straight double-double after finishing with 16 points and 11 boards Friday. She's averaged 7.0 points and 5.0 rebounds, however, in her last three games versus the Sky.

Reserve guard Tayler Hill has given the Mystics a lift lately, totaling 30 points while shooting 5 of 11 from beyond the arc in her last two games.

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