After a wild common season, the WNBA postseason will get underway with a pair of first-round video games.
Prime seeds Washington and Connecticut do not play for one more week, because the groups earned double byes to the semifinals. Los Angeles and Las Vegas do not play till Sunday towards the winners of Wednesday night time’s video games.
The primary spherical, single elimination spherical matches Chicago welcoming Phoenix, and Seattle internet hosting Minnesota.
The Mercury will head into the Windy Metropolis short-handed as they may most probably be with out Diana Taurasi. Phoenix’s star guard has missed many of the season with again and hamstring accidents. She’s listed as uncertain for the opening sport.
“Hopefully we will win and get her prepared for Sunday,” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello stated on Tuesday. “However at this stage, I do not envision Diana taking part in.”
Taurasi has been the final word competitor in do-or-die WNBA playoff elimination video games, going 13-1 in her profession, together with her lone loss coming towards Seattle within the semifinals final season. The Mercury have gone 6-Zero within the single elimination format for the reason that WNBA first launched it in 2016. Phoenix is used to taking part in with out Taurasi this season, and Brittney Griner and DeWanna Bonner have had excellent seasons, in addition to guard Leilani Mitchell.
Chicago is again within the playoffs for the primary time since 2016. The Sky are led by guard Courtney Vandersloot, who grew to become the primary participant in WNBA historical past to have 300 assists in a season. Whereas expertise is on the Mercury’s aspect, the Sky have received all three video games between the groups this season. That features a 27-point win final week.
Within the second sport of the night time, Minnesota will go to the defending champion Storm. Each groups have been a bit shocking this season contemplating the gamers they have been lacking. Seattle has performed this season with out reigning MVP Breanna Stewart, who has been out with a ruptured Achilles’ tendon. The Storm have additionally been lacking Sue Hen for your entire yr after she had knee surgical procedure in Might.
Seattle has discovered different gamers to step up within the absence of the 2 stars. Natasha Howard has had an unbelievable season, taking part in effectively at each ends of the courtroom.
Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve needed to discover a technique to restructure the franchise after 4 key items to the Lynx’s dynasty have been lacking. Lindsay Whalen retired, Rebekkah Brunson sat out due to a concussion and Maya Moore determined to take the yr off. Add to that Seimone Augustus missed the primary half of the season whereas recovering from knee surgical procedure and Reeve had a largely new roster this season.
The one mainstay from the championship run was middle Sylvia Fowles, who had one other robust season. She was complemented by first-round choose Napheesa Collier, who’s a number one candidate for rookie of the yr.
Right here are some things to observe for within the playoffs:
RESTING TIME: Washington and Connecticut may have time to heal up and be prepared for the semifinals. For the Mystics, it is an opportunity to get a number of extra days for Kristi Toliver to recuperate from a bone bruise that has sidelined her for the previous couple of weeks. For the Solar, it is an opportunity to play a best-of-five sequence within the playoffs as a substitute of a single-elimination sport during which the workforce hasn’t fared effectively, shedding the final two years to Phoenix.
PLAYOFF NEWBIES: The Las Vegas Aces have been the preseason choose by the WNBA’s common managers and coaches to win the league this yr. Coach Invoice Laimbeer has stated all alongside it is a three-year plan for the workforce and that is simply the second yr. The Aces earned a bye on the ultimate day of the common season and have the expertise to make a deep playoff run. They’re led by the dominant entrance courtroom of A’ja Wilson and Liz Cambage.
ROUNDING INTO FORM: The Los Angeles Sparks have been almost unbeatable at residence this season, successful 15 of 17 contests. With Candace Parker, Chelsea Grey and the Ogwumike sisters main the best way, the Sparks have playoff expertise and depth. The important thing although may be the play of Riquna Williams. Los Angeles’ guard was suspended for 10 video games due to a home violence arrest. She gives the workforce with a constant outdoors taking pictures presence and has the power to create her personal shot.