The Washington Mystics have aided their postseason push by equaling their longest win streak of the season. Whether their recent fortune against the Atlanta Dream changes could determine if they remain in playoff position over the next two weeks.
The Mystics will seek to snap a lengthy skid to the Dream on Sunday in the first of three matchups with Atlanta before the end of the month.
Washington (12-13) pulled away in the fourth quarter Friday for a 66-57 victory over New York, the fifth-place team in the Eastern Conference. The Mystics' third straight win gave them a 1 1/2-game lead on a playoff spot and matched their season-high streak June 7-16.
Washington hasn't won four in a row since matching a franchise record with six straight victories Aug. 10-22, 2010. That's also the last year the team reached the playoffs.
"If we continue to play like this, we'll definitely be a tough team to beat," said guard Ivory Latta, averaging 16.3 points during the win streak.
The Mystics, though, have had a very tough time beating Atlanta (12-9), losing seven straight matchups and two this season by double digits.
Both of those meetings, however, came during the Dream's franchise-best 10-1 start. Their only two victories in 10 games since the end of June have come against Connecticut, the East's last-place team.
Atlanta snapped a four-game skid with an 88-57 rout of the Sun on Friday. The Dream's ninth win in 10 home games this season moved them within 2 1/2 games of conference leader Chicago and kept them two games in front of Washington.
"I think we got back tonight to playing the way we want," forward Le'coe Willingham said, "and that's by playing aggressive, up-tempo, getting after people defensively, and that creates our offense in the open court."
Angel McCoughtry scored 30 points - her third straight game with 30 or more - as she shot 9 for 11 from the field and made all 11 free-throw attempts.
"We just needed a win, that's all," McCoughtry said. "I'm not worried about individual stuff."
She had a team-best 21 points in an 86-75 home victory over the Mystics on June 28 and rookie Alex Bentley scored a career-high 17. Monique Currie led Washington with 20 points that day, but she's coming off a season-worst three-point effort Friday.
McCoughtry missed nine of 13 shots in a 73-63 win in Atlanta on June 2 but scored 12 of her 15 points in the second half.
These teams also meet Friday in Washington and Aug. 28 in Atlanta.