It was a few days ago when we knew the eight teams that would be participating in this year’s postseason when the Los Angeles Sparks dropped a heartbreaker to the New York Liberty on the road.
This created a scenario where the Chicago Sky could earn a victory over the Minnesota Lynx at home to be the eighth and final team in the postseason. The Sky took care of business to head back to the playoffs.
The only thing we did not know was which team would be which seed as on the final day of the season, all 12 teams were in action.
Sunday September 10th’s WNBA All Day saw the Dallas Wings defeat the Atlanta Dream by a score of 94-77. The Washington Mystics got a Brittney Sykes buzzer beater to stun the New York Liberty 90-88. The Indiana Fever picked up a win in their final game of the season – 87-72 over the Minnesota Lynx.
The Chicago Sky and Connecticut Sun needed overtime to settle their final game of the season, but it went 102-91 in the Sky’s favor. In front of over 17,000 fans at the T-Mobile Arena, the Las Vegas Aces scored a 100-85 win over the Phoenix Mercury. It was a 91-89 victory for the Los Angeles Sparks over the Seattle Storm.
Now we not only know the playoff teams, but the seeds and matchups for the first round. Without further adieu, here are our previews of the four first-round playoff matchups.
Aces: 3-0 vs Sky
Save for a few late-season stumbles, the Las Vegas Aces have proven from start to finish that they are once again the team to beat in the WNBA. Any team with aspirations on hoisting this year’s championship trophy will have to go through Sin City to reach their destination.
A’ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young and company won all three of their regular season matchups vs. the Chicago Sky.
It took a wire-to-wire effort from the Sky to even make the playoffs this season a year after losing virtually their entire veteran core to either other teams or to taking a year off. They had a coaching change from James Wade to Emre Vatansever and have received worthwhile contributions from Marina Mabrey, Elizabeth Williams, Courtney Williams and former Finals MVP Kahleah Copper.
But the Aces are too good for this year’s Sky. Given Vegas already has two victories over Chicago, expect this to be a two-game sweep.
Season Series Tied 2-2
There is a bit of intrigue to this series given Washington just played New York in their regular season finale at Barclays Center. The Mystics got a big lead on the Liberty only for the Lib to go full Lib and blaze another comeback trail. Except the ‘Stics got the victory thanks to a Brittney Sykes buzzer-beating two.
It must be said that the Mystics already had one victory over the Liberty – in the first game of the regular season in DC. Washington also nearly picked up a win over New York in an earlier game this season at Barclays Center before a successful Liberty comeback.
Sabrina Ionescu, Jonquel Jones, Breanna Stewart, Betnijah Laney, Courtney Vandersloot. That has been the core from start to finish for Sandy Brondello’s Lib squad. On paper, Washington can contend with names such as Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud, Ariel Atkins and Shakira Austin. Except the injury bug keeps biting the Mystics.
Stewie, Sloot and JJ (who all have Finals experience) did not establish this Liberty superteam only to suffer a first-round exit. Eric Thibault’s Washington will give New York a scare, but this one will go Liberty in three games.
Sun: 3-1 vs Lynx
One can call this series the Coach of the Year Classic.
Both Connecticut and Minnesota feature coaches that are among the three top candidates for Coach of the Year in the Sun’s Stephanie White and the Lynx’s Cheryl Reeve.
The Sun won the season series against the Lynx 3-1. Connecticut is a team that saw plenty of changes in its roster with the departures of Jonquel Jones and Jasmine Thomas. Its front office saw Curt Miller leave for Los Angeles. It saw Darius Taylor and Morgan Tuck enter said front office as general manager and assistant general manager. The season itself saw Brionna Jones sustain a season-ending injury but they were led from start to finish by Alyssa Thomas and DeWanna Bonner.
As for the Lynx, Reeve may get a great number of Coach of the Year votes alone simply for rallying her team from the 0-6 start they sustained at the beginning of the season. Napheesa Collier’s return from giving birth in 2022 certainly gave Minnesota a much-needed boost. Kayla McBride has brought her sharpshooting ways to the Twin Cities. One must also not overlook the contributions of Diamond Miller and Dorka Juhasz.
Instead of tanking, the Lynx rose up the WNBA rankings once again. This one may be a hot upset pick for many given how snakebit Connecticut has been in the postseason, but we see this going three games with the Sun advancing to the semifinals.
Wings: 3-0 vs Dream
This matchup may not have the flash of an Aces contest or a Liberty contest, but it may stake its case for matchup of the playoffs.
The Dallas Wings have been a playoff-caliber team as of late. It has been in the first season of the Latricia Trammell (another Coach of the Year candidate) where the Wings are realizing their full potential. Arike Ogunbowale taking that next step into superstardom. Satou Sabally having the letters M, V and P talked about in conversations about her. Natasha Howard and Teaira McCowan coming into their own.
As for the Atlanta Dream, they are also a team on the rise – and they got, arguably, the best draw they could have received for a team earning its first playoff berth since 2018. Tanisha Wright in her second season at the helm has a big three of Rhyne Howard, Cheyenne Parker and Allisha Gray. The Dream also play at a home arena that can very tough on opponents.
We know Dallas is 3-0 vs. Atlanta this season, but the playoffs are a much different animal than the regular season. We went chalk for the first three series but that trend ends here. It will definitely go three games, but we are predicting the Dream to defeat the Wings and advance to the semifinals.