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The WNBA's longest active postseason streak came to an end on Sunday evening when the Phoenix Mercury were eliminated from the playoffs for the first time since 2012 with a 77-74 defeat to the Dallas Wings. It happened in unbelievable and, for non-Mercury fans, hilarious fashion. 

After leading by double digits early on, the Mercury faded in the second half and found themselves playing catch-up in the closing minutes. When Arike Ogunbowale hit two free throws with 7.2 seconds to play to push the Wings' advantage to four, it seemed the game was over. But Michaela Onyenwere drew a foul with 3.7 seconds left and made the first to cut the deficit to three. At that point the Mercury had a chance, but needed a miracle. 

It was almost delivered when Onyenwere missed the second free throw on purpose, got her own rebound and kicked it out to Sug Sutton, who swung the ball to a wide open Moriah Jefferson. She got off a potential game-tying 3-pointer that could have kept the Mercury's season alive, but saw it nestle in between the rim and backboard for a wedgie. 

Heartbreak city for anyone in Phoenix, laughter and awe for everyone else. 

With the defeat, their fifth in a row, the last-place Mercury sunk to 9-25 on the season and officially joined the Seattle Storm as a lottery team for the 2024 WNBA Draft. They are currently on pace for the third-worst season in franchise history; only their 7-27 finish in 2012 and 8-26 campaign in 2003 have been worse. 

It's worth noting that in 2004, they won the No. 1 pick in the lottery and selected Diana Taurasi, and in 2013 they again got the first selection and added Brittney Griner. Whether they'll have such luck this time around remains to be seen, the the 2024 class is projected to be one of the best of all-time, and another game-changing talent could be on their way to Phoenix. 

While no team sets out to miss the playoffs, this is ultimately for the best for the Mercury, who are in need of a reset. Since their run to the Finals in 2021, their core of Taurasi, Griner and Skylar-Diggins Smith has been beset by injuries and off-court issues; in the last two seasons they have not played a single game together. Both Griner and Diggins-Smith are set to be free agents this winter, while Taurasi's contract ends in 2024, at which point she is likely to retire.