The WNBA has been break up into its high 5 and all people else for some time. The defending champion Chicago Sky, the Las Vegas Aces, the Connecticut Sun, the Seattle Storm and the Washington Mystics have already secured their playoff berths. Now with six teams competing for the three spots left — the Indiana Fever are in spoiler mode — each recreation has a heavier really feel to it.
In fact, it is beginning to really feel like 5 teams going for 2 spots. Things are trying good for the sixth-place Dallas Wings. They go into the weekend on a excessive, coming off again-to-again victories over the Sky and the Aces, the league’s present high two teams.
Dallas has gained 4 of its previous 5 video games and is 15-16. The franchise has completed at .500 or higher simply as soon as since transferring from Detroit after the 2009 season. That was in its final of six seasons in Tulsa, when it went 18-16 in 2015. The subsequent yr, the crew moved to Dallas and has made three playoff appearances since, together with final season, however misplaced its first-spherical recreation every time .
The Wings have had some tough patches this season, together with dropping six of seven throughout a stretch from late May to mid June. But Dallas’ March commerce with Indiana for heart Teaira McCowan and a primary-spherical draft choose, which turned guard Veronica Burton, has turned out properly for Dallas.
It took a short time for McCowan, the No. 3 total picks in 2019, to get warmed up; she did not rating in double figures till June 12. But she has now accomplished that in 10 of her previous 14 video games, together with the previous 5 in a row.
“I’m pleased with Big T — the manner she’s performing is big,” Dallas coach Vickie Johnson mentioned after McCowan’s 21 factors and 16 rebounds Thursday towards the Aces.
Burton and Tyasha Harris each stepped ahead the previous two video games to assist make up for the absence of star guard Arike Ogunbowale, who has an ankle damage. No one would have predicted that the Wings would beat the Sky and Aces with Ogunbowale sidelined, however that is what makes playoff races thrilling.
How teams compete over the subsequent 10 days will make the distinction between transferring on to the postseason — which this yr is again to having a full collection in each spherical as a substitute of single-elimination video games in the first two rounds — and being in the draft lottery
Let’s check out what’s at stake on this weekend’s video games, each for teams attempting to safe a playoff spot and people which are already in the postseason however that wish to keep or enhance their seeding.
Atlanta’s Rhyne Howard comes up with an enormous block on the defensive finish after which capitalizes on the different with a jumper.
Sparks at Dream; Mystics at Sky: There’s no strategy to sugarcoat it: The Los Angeles Sparks’ season has taken a nosedive, as they’ve misplaced 5 in a row. According to ESPN’s BPI projections, Los Angeles’ hopes of creating the postseason have fallen to 10.3%. If the Sparks miss the playoffs, it will be the first time since the WNBA’s first two seasons — 1997-98 — that Los Angeles has accomplished that two years in a row. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Dream are projected to have a 56.2% probability of getting a playoff berth. That might sound excessive for a crew that has misplaced seven of its previous 10, however at 13-18, the Dream and the Liberty at the moment declare the final two playoff spots. Atlanta has not been in the postseason since 2018.
Washington has the identical 20-12 document as Seattle and has performed properly since the All-Star Game, successful six of eight. Elena Delle Donne has had lots to do with that, however she will not be touring to Chicago as a part of her relaxation regime. The Sky are coming off a loss to Dallas, however they’ve gained seven of 9 since the All-Star Game. Chicago has 5 video games left, 4 towards teams which have already clinched their playoff spots. The Sky, after all, are enjoying to have residence-courtroom benefit all through the postseason.
Skylar Diggins-Smith discusses the issue in enjoying after Brittney Griner’s sentencing was introduced.
Fever at Wings; Liberty at Mercury:
Johnson made it clear that the very last thing the Wings are doing is overlooking Indiana, even when the Fever have misplaced 15 video games in a row. Indiana has 5 video games left, two of them towards the Wings. Dallas began a 4-recreation residence stand Thursday towards the Aces, and this recreation towards Indiana is one which the Wings merely cannot let get away.
The Mercury end the common season with 4 video games in Phoenix at Footprint Center, the place they’re 9-5 vs. 4-14 on the street. After an emotional loss at Connecticut on Thursday following the information of Brittney Griner’s sentencing in Russia, Phoenix wants a robust end to make the playoffs. The odds are with the Mercury, who’re projected to have a 62.7% probability at the postseason.
Diana Taurasi (proper quad) did not play Thursday, the first recreation she has missed this season.
“She is daily; we’re hopeful to get her again quickly,” Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard mentioned. “We are completely satisfied to be returning to Phoenix. We have performed a lot better at residence than we’ve got on the street this season. Three of the video games are towards teams we’re competing with for these final playoff spots.”
That contains Saturday’s opponent, the New York Liberty, who’ve gone about resurrecting their playoff hopes by successful three in a row and 4 of their final 5. That has moved the Liberty’s playoff odds as much as 48.2%.
Sun at Sky; Sparks at Mystics; Aces at Storm; Dream at Lynx: The doubleheader on ABC begins at 1 pm ET with Connecticut-Chicago, adopted by Las Vegas-Seattle. The latter will be Sue Bird’s final common-season residence recreation after 19 seasons with the Storm, and it’s a sellout. The Aces proper now have the second-greatest probability to win the league title based on BPI (28%), however they’re coming off again-to-again losses earlier than strolling into Sunday’s Bird nostalgia present.
Which crew initiatives as most probably to win the championship? 34.5% at The Sun. Connecticut, tied with Las Vegas at 22-10 in the WNBA standings, is searching for its first league title, as are the Aces. The Sun had the league’s greatest document final season however then have been defeated in the semifinal by Chicago. They Sky have continued to have Connecticut’s quantity this season, successful their first three matchups.
The Sparks, as talked about, have been fading quick and need to tackle the Mystics, who’ve been entering into the wrong way. Los Angeles will be ending a stretch of six of seven on the street.
Lastly, the Minnesota Lynx — who needed to endure a quick break clinic at Seattle on Wednesday — are 12-20 with simply 4 video games left. Minnesota has not missed the playoffs since 2010, however the Lynx have only a 25.9% probability of creating the postseason this yr, based on projections.