WNBA: 8-seed hopefuls Washington Mystics, New York Liberty square off

Six of the eight teams playing Friday night are jockeying for playoff position, which should make for some entertaining, intense basketball.

Battle for eighth

The Liberty sit a game and a half behind the Mystics, who are in the driver’s seat for the eight seed in the playoffs. A few weeks ago, the Liberty were in a much better position. However, they have dropped their last eight games, which has put them on the outside looking in. Over that same stretch, the Mystics have managed four wins. The Mystics and Liberty split their first two games, with the Liberty winning the most recent meeting.

Storm look to turn it around

The Storm sit half a game behind the Lynx and half a game ahead of the Mercury as they play their season finale. The Mercury sit fifth in the standings and could finish as high third, given the finishes of other teams. How these two teams finish will be significantly impacted by the results of this head-to-head matchup.

The Storm, who once looked like they were going to be on their way to repeat as WNBA champions, have fallen off of a cliff. Their most recent defeat came at the hands of the Los Angeles Sparks, 81-53. Without Breanna Stewart until at least the playoffs, the Storm need to figure themselves out. Although, it seems like a switch had been flipped for this team since the their return from the Olympic break. For the Mercury, their story is a complete flip. The Mercury were 9-10 entering the Olympic break, but since the season’s return, Phoenix has gone 10-1, losing the last time they took the court.

Closing out on a high note

The Lynx have won their last two games, including a 90-80 victory over the Fever in the last week. Minnesota is 8-3 since its return from the Olympic break which has allowed it to move up the standings into third place. The Lynx face the Fever and the Mystics in their final two games of the regular season and will look to go into the playoffs on a roll. For the Fever, improvement just has not come as this will mark the fifth-straight season that they have missed the playoffs. The Fever will hope to show some sort of fight over their last two games.

Aces aiming for top-two finish

The Aces can lock up the second seed in the playoffs with a win over the Chicago Sky. The Aces overcame an early 10-point deficit against the Dallas Wings to earn their second-straight win and their eighth win in their last 10 games. The Sky have shown flashes of brilliance at times and have been completely mediocre at other times, which completely fits their .500 record. The Sky should be looking for consistency in their execution as we get closer to the playoffs.

Game information

Indiana Fever (6-24) vs. Minnesota Lynx (20-10)

When: Friday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Indianapolis, IN

How to watch: CBS Sports Network, fever.wnba.com, Bally Sports North+

Key to the matchup: The Lynx boast an extremely solid starting five led by Sylvia Fowles and Napheesa Collier. Teaira McCowan has her hands full in the post.

Fever injury report: Tiffany Mitchell (out; left knee), Jessica Breland (out for season; left thumb), Danielle Robinson (out; right ankle), Chelsea Perry (out for season; right knee), Kysre Gondrezick (out indefinitely; personal leave); Bernadett Határ (out indefinitely; right ankle).

Lynx injury report: Layshia Clarendon (questionable; right fibula), Damiris Dantas (out for season; right foot), Rennia Davis (out for season; left foot stress fracture).

New York Liberty (11-20) vs. Washington Mystics (12-18)

When: Friday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

How to watch: Twitter, YES

Key to the matchup: The Liberty could be an early-season favorite next year with Natasha Howard available more consistently. The Mystics have suffered this season due to the absence of Elena Delle Donne, but Tina Charles has been her usual self, with 24.3 points and 9.6 rebounds this season.

Liberty injury report: Reshanda Gray (questionable; non-COVID illness), Jocelyn Willoughby (out for season; left achilles).

Mystics injury report: Elena Delle Donne (out indefinitely; back).

Chicago Sky (15-15) vs. Las Vegas Aces (22-8)

When: Friday, Sept. 17 at 8 p.m. ET

Where: Wintrust Arena, Chicago, IL

How to watch: NBA TV, The U, MYLVTV, NBA TV Canada

Key to the matchup: The Aces have two of the best substitutes in the entire league in Kelsey Plum and Dearica Hamby. The Sky’s Kahleah Copper is coming off just her fourth single-figure scoring game this season, so look for her to be aggressive early.

Sky injury report: Stefanie Dolson (doubtful; knee)

Aces injury report: Angel McCoughtry (out for season; right knee), Liz Cambage (out indefinitely; health and safety protocols).

Seattle Storm (20-11) vs. Phoenix Mercury (19-11)

When: Friday, Sept. 17 at 10 p.m. ET

Where: Angel of the Wings Arena, Everett, WA

How to watch: NBA TV, Joe TV, TSN2

Key to the matchup: Britney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith form quite the duo even when Diana Taurasi is out. The entire team is in quite the groove. The Storm look like a candidate for an early playoff exit as they have been out of sync for the last few weeks. Without Breanna Stewart, the Storm will need even more from Jewell Loyd.

Storm injury report: Breanna Stewart (out indefinitely; foot), Jordin Canada (questionable; knee), Mikiah Herbert Harrigan (out for season; personal)

Mercury injury report: Diana Taurasi (out; left ankle), Alanna Smith (out indefinitely; health and safety protocols)