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Preview: Mercury host Dream, Storm host Liberty to wrap up Friday WNBA action

With little wiggle room left in the playoff standings, it’s all about maintaining a high level of play no matter what happens. This could come easier to some teams than others.

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Breanna Stewart can lead the Storm to a guaranteed one-seed with a win tonight against the Liberty.
NBAE/Getty Images

Two games wrap up a packed Friday night in the WNBA. Here’s what to watch for.

Atlanta Dream (22-10) at Phoenix Mercury (18-14)

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

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena | TICKETS

How to watch: WNBA League Pass (worldwide streaming)

Injuries: Nothing new to report.

Storylines to follow

Last meeting: Dream 76, Mercury 70 (July 8)

Atlanta is in an interesting position tonight, playoffs-wise. While a win could all but assure them a top-two seed, a loss pins the Storm to the top of the table — regardless of how Seattle’s simultaneous game goes — and leaves that two-seed in flux. The Dream want it, of course, and the growth they’ve shown this season (not to mention coming into this game on a six-game winning streak in spite of losing Angel McCoughtry for the season) proves that they’re ready for the responsibility of a double bye.

The Mercury, on the other hand, are still in the hunt for a top-four seed, which comes with a first-round bye. They’re on a little winning streak of their own at two games, and a win could pull them even with the Sun and Sparks, depending on how those teams’ earlier games go. In any case, it’s ideal that Phoenix keep this winning streak going. They’ve had some good runs this season, even an appearance at the top of the table, but when they fall, they fall hard. A win tonight would not only throw a minor wrench in the Dream’s playoff plans, but it would also give the Mercury some much-needed confidence heading into the postseason.

New York Liberty (7-25) at Seattle Storm (24-8)

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

Where: KeyArena | TICKETS

How to watch: NBA TV (national TV), JOEtv (Seattle-area TV), MSG+ (New York-area TV)

Injuries: For the Liberty, Tina Charles (back) is probable, while Epiphanny Prince (knee) and Shavonte Zellous (ankle) are doubtful.

Storylines to follow

Last meeting: Storm 96, Liberty 80 (August 6)

This is one of the more lopsided games of the year, and at this point, both teams know it, and their worse-than-mirror-image records show it. The Liberty seem to have been shutting down for the season since being officially eliminated from playoff contention, and coming into tonight on an 11-game losing streak, they simply seem to be out of gas. If an injured Tina Charles sees only limited minutes tonight and New York’s short bench can’t keep up with a Storm team that would clinch the best record in the league with a win tonight, then the Liberty are in for a long night.

Despite a big loss to Washington on August 9, the Storm are very well-rested heading into this game, not having played since they beat the Lynx on Sunday. Assuming MVP favorite Breanna Stewart is feeling like her usual self — she was limited to a near-season-low 10 points in the Mystics game, but came back to score 17 in the Lynx game — she should be able to lead her team to a nice, smooth home victory in the penultimate game of the season.