As the 2019 WNBA regular season continues to wind down, we are officially just a handful of games away from the playoffs kicking off in September.
Following Wednesday’s slate of games around the league, three teams have officially clinched a spot in the postseason picture — the Washington Mystics, Connecticut Sun and Las Vegas Aces.
Washington clinched a playoff berth on Aug. 16 in a win over the Minnesota Lynx, while Connecticut and Las Vegas both clinched their playoff berths on Sunday.
With three spots taken up, that leaves just five spots remaining in the playoff picture, with really only five teams in the hunt to obtain those final seeds.
The Los Angeles Sparks, Chicago Sky, Seattle Storm, Phoenix Mercury and Minnesota Lynx will more than likely be the final five teams that will enter the postseason, but the seeds that each of those teams will claim is still very much up for grabs.
For the Lynx, they haven’t been able to take advantage of opportunities to continue to climb in the standings, having lost three straight and sliding down to the No. 8 seed in the WNBA standings with a record of 13-15 overall this summer.
Minnesota, now 7.5 games back of the top spot in the standings, trail Phoenix and the No. 7 seed by a half-game, but are sitting a comfortable 3.5 games ahead of the Indiana Fever, Dallas Wings and New York Liberty — all tied for the No. 9 seed.
With a handful of regular-season games remaining before postseason action begins, the race to the finish is about to get very interesting across the WNBA. Let’s take a look at how the playoff picture is shaping up and who could still make a move in the standings.
No. 1 seed: Washington Mystics (20-7 overall, 0 GB – Clinched playoff berth)
The Mystics have continued to be one of the more consistent teams in the WNBA throughout the season, and such as been the case once again as of late.
Entering Friday’s game against Chicago, Washington has won a league-best six straight games and are now 9-1 in its last 10 games.
With a win over Minnesota on Aug. 16, the Mystics became the first team in the WNBA to officially clinch a playoff spot. And they look to be on pace to grab the No. 1 overall seed and earn a bye when the playoffs begin.
No. 2 seed: Connecticut Sun (19-8 overall, 1 GB – Clinched playoff berth)
After hitting a bit of a bump in the road about a week ago, Connecticut has been right behind Washington as one of the hotter teams in the past week in the league.
The Sun, holding onto the No. 2 overall seed in the WNBA standings with Las Vegas breathing down their necks as the third seed, have won three in a row while maintaining a record of 8-2 in the last 10 contests.
Although it is in a position to also receive a first-round bye if still sitting as the No. 2 seed at the end of the regular season, Connecticut is still in a position to try and make a late-season push to try and grab the top overall seed in the postseason.
No. 3 seed: Las Vegas Aces (19-9 overall, 1.5 GB – Clinched playoff berth)
Following a nice overtime win over Phoenix on Tuesday night, Las Vegas has continued to flex its muscles as one of the top and more dangerous teams in the WNBA this summer.
As one of the top defensive teams in the league while having the ability to light it up offensively, the Aces have continued to showcase to many around the WNBA why they have been viewed as favorites to win the title in 2019.
With Tuesday’s victory, Las Vegas has now won four in a row and seven of its last 10 to remain just 1.5 games back of the No. 1 seed while trailing Connecticut and the second spot by just a half of a game.
The Aces will continue to be a team to watch at the end of the regular season and certainly in the postseason as they continue to roll in the later portion of the year.
No. 4 seed: Los Angeles Sparks (16-10 overall, 3.5 GB)
Los Angeles picked up a big win over Minnesota at home on Tuesday night to manage to hang onto the No. 4 seed in the WNBA standings with eight games left in the regular season schedule.
After losing the previous two games going into Tuesday’s contest, the Sparks got back on track with the victory to improve their record to 7-3 in their last 10 games. They now sit just 3.5 games back of the top overall seed and hold a half-game advantage over Chicago and the No. 5 seed.
Now that it is fully healthy and back at full strength for the most part, Los Angeles has returned back to the dangerous team we have been accustomed to seeing throughout the last handful of years.
While appearing to be figuring things out under first-year head coach Derek Fisher at just the right time, the Sparks could be another team to keep an eye on come playoff time.
No. 5 seed: Chicago Sky (16-11 overall, 4 GB)
Chicago has continued to be a team that has been impressive so far in the 2019 season under first-year head coach James Wade.
The Sky have positioned themselves in a spot where they will try and host a playoff game while grabbing a top five seed and are currently trailing the Sparks and the fourth seed by just a half-game.
Over the last 10 games, Chicago is 7-3 to sit four games back of the No. 1 seed. But the Sky, who have established a new winning identity this season, look to be on track to lock up a top five seed in the postseason and could make some noise in September.
No. 6 seed: Seattle Storm (15-13 overall, 5.5 GB)
After winning an important game over Minnesota last weekend, Seattle might have just about locked up the No. 6 spot in the playoff picture.
While dealing with numerous injuries throughout the regular season, the defending champions are 15-13 overall this season and have gone 5-5 in their last 10 contests to trail the Mystics and the top seed in the standings by 5.5 games.
If the season ended today, Seattle would host a single-elimination playoff game in the first round. As a team that is 10-4 on their home floor this season, the Storm would be a tough test for any team in the opening round of the postseason.
No. 7 seed: Phoenix Mercury (13-14 overall, 7 GB)
Phoenix nearly picked up a big win on Tuesday night in Las Vegas against the Aces, but ultimately fell to one of the toughest teams in the league on the road.
The win for the Mercury would have been big for two reasons. One, because it would have pushed them to within a game of Seattle and the No. 6 seed, but it would have also created some breathing room from Minnesota being able to eventually try and overtake the No. 7 seed from Phoenix.
The Mercury have struggled a bit in the last 10 games, going 4-6 during that span, but they might have managed to get by while also jumping up one spot in the standings while awaiting the return of Brittney Griner, who is currently wrapping up a three-game suspension.
When Griner comes back, it will be interesting to see if Pheonix can continue to ride this recent wave of solid play and start to climb in the standings even more.
No. 8 seed: Minnesota Lynx (13-15 overall, 7.5 GB)
The Lynx wrapped up a critical two-game road trip on Tuesday night in Los Angeles, and unfortunately for the them they will return back home having lost both key games while now losing three in a row.
Minnesota had the chance to jump up into the No. 6 seed when it faced Seattle back on Sunday, but the Lynx fell on the road to the defending champions that bumped them down in the standings while nearly cementing the Storm in the sixth seed.
On Tuesday against another tough playoff opponent in the Sparks, the Lynx had the opportunity to take advantage of a Phoenix loss to try and move back up into the No. 7 spot, but came up empty-handed once again.
With a record of 3-7 in the last 10 contests, the Lynx remain a half-game back of the Mercury and the battle for the seventh seed.
Now having lost three straight, Minnesota will have its work cut out for it with a half-dozen games remaining in the regular season. A late jump in the standings as the regular season winds down isn’t out of the question, but the Lynx have some ground to make up on before the postseason arrives.
On the outside looking in: No. 9, Indiana Fever (9-18 overall, 11 GB); No. 10, Dallas Wings (9-18 overall, 11 GB); No. 11, New York Liberty (9-18 overall, 11 GB); No. 12, Atlanta Dream (5-22 overall, 15 GB – Eliminated).
The playoff picture is starting to take shape, with three teams officially in and the five final spots still up for grabs. We could still see some shifting of the seeds as the last handful of games take place before the postseason begins.