Scenarios for WNBA playoffs seeding abound in buildup to final week
The 2018 WNBA season wraps up Aug. 19, with the playoffs tipping off two days later.
So far, five teams have clinched a postseason berth, with only the New York Liberty and Indiana Fever eliminated from playoff contention. Here’s a look at the standings heading into Thursday’s games.
1. Seattle Storm (23-7)
2. Atlanta Dream (19-10)
3. Los Angeles Sparks (18-11)
4. Washington Mystics (18-11)
5. Connecticut Sun (17-12)
6. Minnesota Lynx (16-13)
7. Phoenix Mercury (16-14)
8. Dallas Wings (14-15)
9. Las Vegas Aces (12-17)
10. Chicago Sky (10-19)
11. New York Liberty (7-22)
12. Indiana Fever (5-24)
By the time all is said and done Thursday, a few teams may have solidified their place in the playoff standings, per ESPN Women’s Hoops:
The top eight seems likely to remain as is, if not necessarily in the same order.
The Chicago Sky simply have too much ground to make up on the Dallas Wings in too little time. All it takes is one stumble against the Connecticut Sun or Minnesota Lynx over the next week to take Chicago out of the race.
Granted, the Wings are stumbling toward the finish line, which opens the door for both the Sky and Las Vegas Aces.
Dallas has lost six in a row and has a difficult slate of games to wrap up the regular season. The Wings face off with the Atlanta Dream, Washington Mystics, Sun, Aces and Seattle Storm in that order. Of those five games, only the Aces come into College Park Center.
The Aces haven’t been much better, losing four straight—including their forfeit to the Mystics. However, Vegas has a much more manageable end to the year. A game with the Lynx on Thursday night will be tricky, but then the Aces have winnable games against the Fever and Liberty. After that, they have what could be a pivotal matchup with the Wings.
Of course, there’s plenty of intrigue surrounding the top four seeds as well, with only 3.5 games separating the second-place Dream from the seventh-place Phoenix Mercury.
The Los Angeles Sparks can climb into second Thursday with a win over Atlanta. The two teams split their first two regular-season matchups, so tonight’s result will give somebody the edge in a tiebreaker.
The Mystics will certainly be rooting for Los Angeles. Washington is 1-2 against Atlanta, so it needs to finish with a better record than the Dream in order to secure the second seed.
The Mystics could tie with the Sparks and still finish above them in the standings. Los Angeles defeated Washington on June 15, only for Washington to return the favor July 7. The Sparks and Mystics play for the final time Aug. 17, the outcome of which could have serious playoff implications.
The Sun, Lynx and Mercury will need a lot more help in order to move up to second, so they’re largely in a fight for third and fourth place. Either of the two spots would at least guarantee a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
The game to watch in the fight for fourth
This has been a thrilling regular season since an opening weekend that saw a buzzer-beater by Chelsea Gray. That drama should extend through to the final day as teams jostle for postseason position.