A week and a half left to go before the conclusion of the 2019 WNBA regular-season schedule around the league, the playoff field is starting to take shape with a few games left to be played before postseason action kicks off.
With the regular season wrapping up on Sept. 8 and the opening round of the WNBA Playoffs kicking off on Sept. 11, seven of the total eight playoff spots have been claimed with one final spot up for grabs.
Entering Tuesday night seeing six of the eight spots taken by teams throughout the league, the Minnesota Lynx were officially added to the postseason mix following their victory over the Chicago Sky at Target Center.
The Lynx clinched their ninth straight playoff berth with the win over the Sky and even made a jump up to the No. 6 seed as a result of the Seattle Storm losing to the Connecticut Sun late Tuesday night.
Coming into Wednesday, the six other teams that are officially in the playoff picture along with Minnesota are the Washington Mystics, Connecticut Sun, Los Angeles Sparks, Las Vegas Aces, Chicago and Seattle. The Phoenix Mercury, currently sitting in the No. 8 spot, is very likely to join that field sooner rather than later.
Although we know — at least for the most part — the entire field ahead of the playoffs in September, there are many positions and seeds within the standings that are still very much up for grabs throughout the entire list of top eight squads in the WNBA.
That alone will make the final week and a half of the regular season very entertaining.
With the year continuing to inch closer to a conclusion, the battle to grab the best possible seed before the regular season slate wraps up is getting very interesting and will continue to be the case until the final game is played on Sept. 8.
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.
No. 1 seed: Washington Mystics (22-8 overall, 0 GB – Clinched playoff berth)
The Mystics seem to continue to roll in the second half of the regular season and with the playoffs right around the corner.
Washington enters Wednesday as one of the best teams in the WNBA over the last 10 contests, holding a record of 8-2 during that stretch to maintain its position as the top seed in the league standings.
The Mystics, winners of two in a row, hold a one-game lead over Connecticut for the top spot in the WNBA. Washington, however, will take on an opponent below the .500 mark in three of its next four games to finish out the regular season.
It looks like the Mystics might just continue to hold onto that top position in the league to earn a bye when the playoffs get underway in a few short weeks.
No. 2 seed: Connecticut Sun (21-9 overall, 1 GB – Clinched playoff berth)
The Sun have been an entertaining team to keep an eye on and watch throughout the course of the 2019 WNBA season, and that has continued to be the case in the home stretch of the year.
Connecticut, which was won seven of its last 10 games coming into Wednesday, trail the red-hot Mystics and the No. 1 seed by just one game. The Sun also hold a 2.5-game lead over both Los Angeles and Las Vegas in the standings.
Some more good news for Connecticut is that two of its final four games will come at home to finish out the regular season, with the two road games coming against teams on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. The Sun have been really hard to play at home this season, holding a league-best record of 14-1 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Although we could see Connecticut make a leap to as high as the No. 1 seed in the league standings, the Sun appear to at least be in a position to grab a bye and one of the top two spots in the postseason bracket.
No. 3 seed: Los Angeles Sparks (18-11 overall, 3.5 GB – Clinched playoff berth)
Don’t look now, but the Sparks are quickly making a jump in the WNBA standings while returning to looking like the team we’ve been accustomed to seeing for the past handful of years.
Los Angeles, winners in seven of its last 10 games, is tied with Las Vegas for the third seed while trailing the top-seeded Mystics by 3.5 games. The Sparks could possibly continue to make a leap in the standings with five games remaining on their schedule to wrap up the regular-season slate.
An important thing to note when looking at Los Angeles’ final five games of the season is that three of those games will come against playoff teams (Las Vegas, Seattle and Minnesota). The Sparks, who hold a record of 12-2 at home, will also wrap up the regular season with their final three games at home at Staples Center, which could provide them with a boost going into the playoffs.
Los Angeles looks to be back to the dominant team we have been used to seeing it as for the last handful of seasons, and the Sparks could be gaining momentum at just the right time before postseason action begins.
No. 4 seed: Las Vegas Aces (19-12 overall, 3.5 GB – Clinched playoff berth)
One team that has struggled at one of the most important times of the season has been Las Vegas.
Losers of three straight, the Aces had another disappointing performance on Tuesday night in a blowout loss at the hands of Indiana. With the loss, Las Vegas has now gone 5-5 in its last 10 games.
Along with hitting a slump recently, the Aces are now in jeopardy of dropping down to as far as the fifth seed after holding onto the No. 3 seed for the past few weeks.
It will be interesting to see how Las Vegas, which is tied with Los Angeles for the third seed while holding a half-game lead over Chicago and the No. 5 seed, responds for the remainder of the regular season or if its struggles will continue heading into the playoffs.
No. 5 seed: Chicago Sky (18-12 overall, 4 GB – Clinched playoff berth)
Chicago has continued to be one of more impressive teams down the home stretch of the regular season, still trying to grab one of the top three or four spots in the league standings.
The Sky had a golden opportunity to make a jump up to as high as the No. 3 spot in the WNBA on Tuesday night in Minnesota, but fell to the Lynx resulting in them sticking in the fifth spot in the standings.
Chicago, which has gone 7-3 in its last 10 contests, could still move up before the postseason begins, trailing Los Angeles and Las Vegas by a half-game to overtake the third seed.
As a team that missed the playoffs a year ago with a record of 13-21, the Sky have had a nice bounce-back season under first-year head coach James Wade. And they will make a return to the postseason by hosting a contest at Wintrust Arena in Chicago as a playoff squad in 2019.
No. 6 seed: Minnesota Lynx (16-15 overall, 6.5 GB – Clinched playoff berth)
After putting together somewhat of a disappointing road trip at the start of the month of August, the Lynx have bounced back in a big way as of late to make a leap in the standings.
Minnesota, suddenly one of the hottest teams in the WNBA recently, clinched its ninth straight playoff berth with a victory over Chicago on Tuesday night in Minneapolis. The Lynx have won a league-best three straight games, all of which have come in front of their home crowd at Target Center.
Minnesota also made a jump up to the No. 6 seed in the standings with a Seattle loss to Connecticut on Tuesday, pushing it a half-game ahead of the Storm for that sixth spot.
The Lynx will continue to be put to the test down the stretch of the year, as they will have one more home game on Sunday before wrapping up the regular season schedule with two road games in Phoenix and Los Angeles.
If the playoffs ended right now, Minnesota would host Seattle in a first-round, single-elimination game in Minneapolis. That would be an incredibly entertaining matchup to kick off the playoffs.
No. 7 seed: Seattle Storm (15-15 overall, 7 GB – Clinched playoff berth)
After looking like they were almost a lock to claim the No. 6 seed in the playoffs, the Storm have hit a bit of a bump in the road to drop to the No. 7 seed in the WNBA standings.
Having lost two straight while going 3-7 in the last 10 games, Seattle sits a half-game behind Minnesota for the sixth seed and would travel to Minneapolis in the first round as the standings currently appear.
The Storm are a tough squad no matter where you play them, but facing Seattle away from its home crowd would be big for any team come playoff time. The Storm, who hold a 10-6 record at home this season, are just 5-9 on the road in 2019.
No. 8 seed: Phoenix Mercury (14-15 overall, 7.5 GB)
Although they haven’t officially claimed a playoff berth as of Wednesday morning, the Mercury look to be the team that will grab the final spot in the playoff picture prior to the bracket tipping off on Sept. 11.
While currently sitting as the No. 8 seed right now while looking like it will travel to take on fifth-seeded Chicago in the opening round of the postseason, Phoenix still has the ability to make a leap in the standings.
The Mercury entered Wednesday trailing Seattle and the No. 7 seed by just a half-game, while trailing Minnesota and the sixth spot by a game. Phoenix also holds a 3.5 game lead over Indiana and the No. 9 seed, which provides it with some breathing room at the tail end of the regular season.
The Mercury have been playing some good basketball as of late, although they’ve ultimately fallen short in some close games here down the stretch of the year. They will be yet another tough team to play come playoff time next month.
On the outside looking in: No. 9, Indiana Fever (11-19 overall, 11 GB); No. 10, Dallas Wings (9-20 overall, 12.5 GB); No. 11, New York Liberty (9-21 overall, 13 GB – Eliminated); No. 12, Atlanta Dream (7-22 overall, 14.5 GB – Eliminated).
The playoff picture is nearly set, with seven teams officially in and one final spot still technically up for grabs. There could, however, still be some movement with the seedings of teams over the course of the last few games of the regular season schedule.
Enjoy the rest of the regular season, basketball fans.