Lynx

WNBA Playoff Picture: Plenty Left to be Decided With Playoff Field Set

(image credit: screenshot from Minnesota Lynx on YouTube)

We’ve finally made it. The final week of the 2019 WNBA regular season is officially here.

With all 12 teams wrapping up the final few games before the conclusion of the 34-game regular season on Sunday, the playoff field is set ahead of the start of the postseason on Sept. 11.

Although we know who the eight playoff teams will be — the Washington Mystics, Connecticut Sun, Los Angeles Sparks, Las Vegas Aces, Chicago Sky, Seattle Storm, Minnesota Lynx and Phoenix Mercury — there is still a lot to be decided in the final pair of games.

When looking at the playoff picture entering Wednesday, there are numerous seeds still up for grabs in the tight WNBA standings. That includes the top two seeds between Washington and Connecticut, the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 seeds between Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Chicago and the Nos. 6, 7 and 8 seeds between Seattle, Minnesota and Phoenix.

Within the next week, we could see a handful of teams continue to shift and switch places in the standings before the postseason bracket becomes official.

For the Lynx, who clinched their ninth straight playoff berth with a win at home last week, they are heating up at the right time and have won a season-best four games in a row with two games left to play.

Minnesota, currently tied with Seattle for the No. 6 seed, will need to win out and the Storm to lose one of their final two games to move back up and snag the sixth spot in the playoff seedings. Seattle holds a 3-1 series advantage over Minnesota this year.

If the playoffs started right now, Minnesota would travel to take on Seattle in a first-round, single-elimination playoff game in Seattle on Sept. 11.

The race for the best possible playoff positioning is in full swing, which should make for a very entertaining finish to the regular season throughout the upcoming week.

Let’s take a look at how the playoff picture looks entering Wednesday and what teams could move up or down in the standings ahead of postseason play next week.

PLAYOFF PICTURE

No. 1 seed: Washington Mystics (24-8 overall, 0 GB, 2 games left)

The Mystics have continued to roll in the second half of the regular season and are looking like the favorites to snag the top seed in the playoffs next week.

Washington, winners of four straight and nine of its last 10 games, have officially clinched a top two spot in the postseason and also controls its own destiny with two games left.

While already receiving a double bye to the semifinal round of the playoffs, if the Mystics are able win out in their final two games, they would finish with the best record in the WNBA and the top seed.

The only team that could catch Washington in the standings is Connecticut, which owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Mystics and could jump up to the top seed if Washington loses one of its final two games and the Sun win out in their final three contests.

The Mystics’ final two games will come at home, facing Dallas on Friday and finishing the regular season against Chicago on Sunday. And the way Washington has been playing as of late, it’s not likely that we see it fall from the top seed.

No. 2 seed: Connecticut Sun (22-9 overall, 1.5 GB, 3 games left)

With three games remaining in their regular season schedule, Connecticut is trying to make a late-season push to grab the top seed in the league standings.

The Sun, who have won two in a row and are 7-3 in their last 10 games, enter Wednesday 1.5 games back of Washington and the No. 1 seed. Connecticut will host Dallas on Wednesday, before finishing the year up at home against Chicago on Friday and at Indiana on Sunday.

The Sun will need a bit of help from the Mystics if they want to climb up atop the WNBA standings. Connecticut, which holds a 2-1 tiebreaker over Washington in the regular season series, will move up to No. 1 by winning out and the Mystics falling in one of their final two games.

At the very least, it’s looking like the Sun will be able to grab one of the top two spots in the playoff bracket, resulting in a double bye to push them into the semifinal round of the postseason this month.

No. 3 seed: Los Angeles Sparks (20-12 overall, 4 GB, 2 games left)

A late race for the No. 3 seed is starting to heat up between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, who are both tied in the standings with records of 20-12 overall.

The Sparks, who have gone 6-4 in their last 10 contests, have two games remaining on their schedule against two tough playoff opponents. With both games coming at home, Los Angeles will host Seattle on Thursday before taking on Minnesota in the regular season finale on Sunday.

With the Sparks and Aces splitting the regular season series 2-2 throughout the year, if Los Angeles were to finish with the same record as Las Vegas at the end of the year, the team with the better winning percentage against all teams with .500 or better records would get the higher seed in the bracket.

Los Angeles has been picking up steam in the second half of the regular season and they are poised to receive a first-round bye and homecourt advantage in the single-elimination game in the second round of the playoffs.

No. 4 seed: Las Vegas Aces (20-12 overall, 4 GB, 2 games left)

After a strong start to the regular season while being pegged as the early-season favorites to win the 2019 WNBA title, Las Vegas has evened back out in the second half of the year to move down a few spots in the standings after flirting with the top spot midway through the season.

While going 5-5 in their last 10 games, the Aces have two games remaining in the regular season and will play at Atlanta on Thursday before traveling to Phoenix on Sunday.

As mentioned earlier, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, who enter Wednesday tied in the league standings at 20-12 overall, split the four-game regular season series 2-2 during the year. That means if the two teams were to win out and finish with the same record, a second tiebreaker would be required, that being the team with the better winning percentage against all teams with .500 or better records earning the higher seed in the postseason.

Las Vegas looks to finish the regular season out strong, and it will have a couple of tough road games to wrap up the year. If the Aces are able to get the No. 4 seed, which is looking likely while holding a one-game lead over Chicago in the No. 5 spot, they would also receive a first-round bye and homecourt advantage in the second round of the playoffs.

No. 5 seed: Chicago Sky (19-13 overall, 5 GB, 2 games left)

Chicago began to make a push in the second half of the regular season in the middle of August, nearly seeing it jump up to the No. 3 or No. 4 seed in the standings, but have faced some tough playoff-caliber opponents as of late and have moved back down to the fifth seed.

The Sky hold a record of 6-4 in their last 10 games and have two games left on their slate before the postseason. Chicago will have a tough finish to the regular season, facing the top two teams in the league when they play in Connecticut on Friday and at Washington on Sunday.

The Sky still look like they will be able to grab a top five seed in the playoffs, but hold just a two-game lead over both Seattle and Minnesota in the standings. One more win would clinch the fifth seed for Chicago, resulting in homecourt advantage in a single-elimination game to kick off postseason play.

No. 6 seed: Seattle Storm (17-15 overall, 7 GB, 2 games left)

Seattle has fluctuated between the No. 6 and No. 7 seeds in the last few weeks of the regular season, exchanging spots with Minnesota in what has seemed like every other game.

The Storm have won two straight games and are 5-5 in the last 10 games with two contests left in the week ahead of the playoffs. Seattle wraps up the season with a game at Los Angeles on Thursday before remaining on the road to face Dallas in the regular-season finale on Sunday.

Seattle controls its destiny for the remaining two games, holding a 3-1 season series advantage over Minnesota, meaning the Storm would take the No. 6 spot and would host a first-round playoff game on Sept. 11 in Seattle if they were to win out.

Seattle would host Minnesota in that first-round single-elimination game, which could make for an interesting game since the Storm are a tough team to face at Alaska Airlines Arena.

No. 7 seed: Minnesota Lynx (17-15 overall, 7 GB, 2 games left)

Minnesota is heating up at the best time of the year, having won four straight games after wrapping up a big four-game homestand at Target Center in Minneapolis on Sunday.

The Lynx are 6-4 in their last 10 games with two contests remaining, but will have a pair of tough road games ahead of them before the playoffs can officially begin.

Minnesota will travel to face Phoenix on Friday, before finishing up the regular season against its rival Los Angeles on Sunday at Staples Center.

The Lynx will need a little assistance from the Storm if they want to move back up to the sixth seed in the league standings. If Minnesota is able to win out, it would need Seattle to lose one of its two final games to finish the regular season with a better record than the defending champions.

If both the Lynx and Storm win out in their final two games, the two teams would finish with an identical 19-15 record, resulting in Minnesota remaining as the No. 7 seed and hitting the road to take on Seattle in a single-elimination contest in the opening round on Sept. 11.

No. 8 seed: Phoenix Mercury (15-17 overall, 9 GB, 2 games left)

Phoenix became the eighth and final team to officially clinch a playoff berth last week, and it looks like it will remain as the No. 8 seed when the postseason commences next week.

The Mercury, who have lost two straight and enter Wednesday 4-6 in their last 10 games, sit two games back of both Seattle and Minnesota, two teams tied for the No. 6 seed.

Phoenix, who has two games left against Minnesota at home on Friday and Las Vegas at home on Sunday, needs to win out and also needs both the Storm and Lynx to lose out to be able to make a leap in the standings.

The Mercury will continue to be a tough team heading into the postseason, and are looking like they will travel to face Chicago on the road in the opening round of the playoffs.

Enjoy the final week of the regular season. We are almost ready to kick off playoff basketball, one of the best times of the year.

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(image credit: screenshot from Minnesota Lynx on YouTube)

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