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Preview: The Mercury need a win and a little help to secure the final playoff spot

The Phoenix Mercury travel to play the Atlanta Dream, looking to get a win. The Los Angeles Sparks can help the Mercury’s playoff cause with a win over the Indiana Fever.

Atlanta Dream v Phoenix Mercury
Britney Griner looks to lead the Phoenix Mercury back to the playoffs.
Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

The playoff race is all but over as seven of eight the spots have been handed out. The Washington Mystics and Connecticut Sun seemingly have the top two spots secure, which would guarantee both teams a spot in the Semifinals. The Phoenix Mercury are the mathematical favorites for the eighth and final seed with a 3.5 game lead and a season sweep over the Indiana Fever.

The Mercury take the court looking to seal the final playoff spot against the Atlanta Dream. The Mercury have five games left while the Fever have four games left. The Mercury would have to lose out while the Fever win out for the Fever to get in the playoffs. The Dream’s season has been a disaster but they have won their last two games. Atlanta has a chance to play spoiler here. A Mercury victory coupled with a Fever loss would give the Mercury another postseason appearance.

The other piece to the Mercury/Fever puzzle is the Los Angeles Sparks, as they will be today’s opponent against the Fever. The Fever are coming off an impressive home victory over the Las Vegas Aces. The Sparks have beaten the Fever twice, most recently in Los Angeles last week by 33 points. Their first meeting took place in Indianapolis and was much closer. The Fever need to win just keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

The Dallas Wings have dropped their last three games, nearly eliminating themselves from playoff contention. While not mathematically eliminated, the Mercury own the season series 2-1 and would be in front of the Wings if they managed to finish with the same record. The Chicago Sky would like to finish their fine regular season strong, and another home win down the stretch would be a good start.

Here’s how to watch tonight’s games:

Game information

Atlanta Dream (7-22) vs. Phoenix Mercury (14-15)

When: Thursday, Aug. 29, at 7 p.m. ET

Where: State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA

How to watch: NBA TV, WSB Now, NBA TV Canada

Keys to the matchup: The Mercury are clearly the better team. Brittney Griner should be able to dominate whoever her defensive matchup is, while it will be on the Mercury’s defense to keep Tiffany Hayes and Renee Montgomery in check. Diana Taurasi will be a player to monitor as she finishes out the regular season after returning from injury. Taurasi has shot 2-for-20 from the field over the Mercury’s last two games.

Indiana Fever (11-19) vs. Los Angeles Sparks (18-11)

When: Thursday, Aug. 29, at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

How to watch: WNBA League Pass, Fox Sports Indiana

Keys to the matchup: The Fever’s defense has their hands full with the Ogwumike sisters, Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray as scoring options for the Sparks. Teaira McCowan posted 24 points and 17 rebounds along with five blocks in Indiana’s win against the Aces; another performance like that could carry the Fever to their third straight win.

Chicago Sky (18-12) vs. Dallas Wings (9-20)

When: Thursday, Aug. 29, at 8 p.m. ET

Where: Wintrust Arena, Chicago, IL

How to watch: WNBA League Pass, The U Too

Keys to the matchup: Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley will give Arike Ogunbowale and Allisha Gray all they can handle in this one. The Sky won the previous two matchups by double-digits; look for that to continue.