The Washington Mystics clinch last Eastern Conference playoff berth

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

With the Washington Mystics (15-17) defeating the Indiana Fever (15-17) 69-67 in a closely contested match all game, DC clinched the last open playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, which is their seventh in franchise history, and first since 2010.

I have been on record saying that a playoff berth for the Washington Mystics is not in their best interest in most circumstances and that's because there is no young foundational core and no superstar for the team which even Coach Thibault has implied in press conferences.

But as of late, the Mystics' top draft pick, Tayler Hill has been gradually awakening from a seemingly season long slumber and has now scored at least 10 points in four of her last five games. and her shooting has improved as well. This has also resulted in Matee Ajavon getting less playing time, and in yesterday's game she only had 13 minutes on the floor while Hill had twice as much time.

While I have been on record saying that the draft lottery is a good thing for the Mystics, I also don't believe that the playoff appearance is necessarily an automatic trip back on the "Treadmill of Mediocrity" if Hill can develop quickly into a core player and perhaps become the Mystics' best player quickly.

I'm still skeptical that her level of play will continue because of her performance most of this season. But at the same time, she is turning her game around at the right time, right as the playoffs are coming around, and it wouldn't shock me if she is starting games in the playoffs as well. Last month, I believed that she'd hardly play at all if DC got in the playoffs, so this is promising indeed for a team that desperately needs a young foundational player under the age of 25 of any kind.

The other rookies: Emma Meesseman, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, and Nadirah McKenith have all had their moments and have had considerable rotation minutes for much of, if not the whole year. Hopefully they continue to provide a good punch in the playoffs. At least some of them will be important for the Mystics over the next several seasons and hopefully at least some of them can be a starter down the road.

There are still many challenges ahead in terms of how the Mystics can be a perennial championship contender, and we'll certainly talk about that, but making the playoffs this year certainly is a commendable accomplishment nevertheless because not very many people thought this was possible in the preseason.

So I would like to congratulate the Washington Mystics for earning a berth in the 2013 Playoffs and I'm honestly pleased to see that there is a clear culture change with Mike Thibault coaching this team. And though I certainly have been frustrated with some rookies' performances during the season, in particular Hill's, I do feel a bit better about a playoff berth with her playing at a higher level at this point in the season.. Considering how well they are coached and are playing together considering the circumstances, this playoff berth is certainly a validation for that.

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