Postseason implications aplenty will be in play when the Dallas Wings host the New York Liberty on Wednesday for the second of a two-game, late-season miniseries between the teams in Arlington, Texas.
The Wings (17-16) clinched a berth in the playoffs with an 86-77 win over New York on Monday and can assure themselves the sixth seed in the postseason with another victory on Wednesday or with wins on the road against Phoenix and Los Angeles in their final two games.
The Liberty's loss on Monday dropped them to 13-20, the same record as the Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks -- a game in back of the Phoenix Mercury for the league's final playoff spot with three games remaining. Five teams remain in play for the final two postseason spots.
Marina Mabrey carried Dallas to the win on Monday, racking up a career-high 31 points and running the point in the absence of the injured Arike Ogunbowale. Allisha Gray scored 18 points and Teaira McCowan added 16 for Dallas in the win, its fifth straight.
"We are excited about making the playoffs, but we want more -- we want the sixth seed, and we want to finish the season the right way," Dallas coach Vickie Johnson said. "Once the playoff starts it's a new season, anything can happen. We're comfortable going on the road and playing whoever."
Ogunbowale has an abdominal strain and won't play Wednesday. Her status for the final two regular-season games and beyond is to be determined.
Sabrina Ionescu poured in a season-best 32 points for the Liberty in the loss, with Marine Johannes adding 19. Ionescu took, and made, all 12 of New York's free throws in the game.
New York erased a 12-point first-quarter deficit to take a 64-63 lead heading into the final period. The game went back and forth over the ensuing five minutes before Dallas took charge with a 14-0 run that began at the 5:45 mark to take an 86-71 lead.
That run, and the Wings' defense, was the difference. The Liberty scored just 13 points in the fourth quarter.
"That's when we need a little more movement," New York coach Sandy Brondello said. "Sab (Ionescu) did her best there, but I think we were a bit too much isolation ball in the end, but that's on me and the plays I was calling."
--Field Level Media