It is time for the post-season in the Women’s’ National Basketball League (WNBA) and all teams vying for the championship are as good as ready for the fight that beckons. The League is returning to an all-series playoff format this season, after six years of single-elimination first- and second-round games. The first round’s best-of-three series give the better seed the first two games at home. However, a split would allow the lower seed to host the decisive Game 3. For the semifinals and Finals, they are still best of five, and could give some epic games.
Without further ado, here is a preview of the possibilities that could occur in the first round of hostilities., starting August 17. Las Vegas Aces (1) vs Phoenix Mercury (8) The Aces begin their postseason campaign against the Phoenix Mercury. Dealing with the detainment of Brittney Griner has made this an emotionally tough season for the Mercury, but they have rallied together as a team and found a small measure of success. Unfortunately, with superstar Diana Taurasi out with injury and Skylar Diggins-Smith’s status with the team uncertain, this is likely the end of Phoenix’s run. Prediction: If Diggins-Smith makes an appearance in this series, I say the Mercury swipe a game and then get a boost from their raucous fanbase, the X-factor, to make the third game close. But if she does not play, the Aces should sweep the Mercury easily, as they will be facing a team without much depth that’s much less talented.
Led by first year head coach, Becky Hammon, the Las Vegas Aces have secured the No. 1 seed in the WNBA playoffs 🙌 pic.twitter.com/z7Dj5d2NBb — WNBA on ClutchPoints (@WNBAcp) August 15, 2022
Chicago Sky (2) vs New York Liberty (7) Chicago almost grabbed the top spot from Las Vegas and has been dominant all season. Of course, the Liberty have had a ton of momentum since the All-Star game and could present a big challenge for the champs. As good as Chicago is, New York is a team full of shooters, which means no lead is ever safe. Candace Parker and the Sky need to be careful because this has all the hallmarks of a trap. This is by far the most interesting first-round contest. Ultimately, the best team will probably win in a close three-game series. Prediction: The Liberty are not a team the Sky can afford to overlook, especially when they’re making their 3s, but Chicago just has so much firepower that will be difficult for New York to contain. I’m picking the Sky to come out on top, but I do think the Liberty can take a game off the defending champions.
Connecticut Sun (3) vs Dallas Wings (6) Connecticut is looking to finally convert its unmatched offense into a championship. The Wings caught fire toward the end of the season and won five straight games from July 30–Aug. 8 to clinch a second consecutive playoff berth. Be that as it may, the Sun are much more experienced in the playoffs, having reached at least the semifinals in three consecutive seasons. The Wings franchise hasn’t won a playoff game since it moved to Dallas (0-3) and has played just one since 2018. Prediction: During the regular season, the Wings were 2-1 against the Sun, and should be competitive, but actually winning the first-round series will be difficult, especially with Arike Ogunbowale out injured for the 1st Round. The more experienced team on both ends of the court shall prevail, and Connecticut look the better, hence, Suns in three.
Seattle Storm(4) vs Washington Mystics(5) For the first time since Seattle swept Washington in the 2018 Finals, the teams that combined to win three of the last four championships square off. Seattle are riding high on the emotion of trying to send Sue Bird off with a title, and as usual, they have looked extremely hard to beat. With Jewell Lloyd and MVP favorite Breanna Stewart firing on all cylinders, the Storm are going to be tough to eliminate. Mystics superstar Elena Delle Donne and Rookie of the Year candidate Shakira Austin are not quite enough to get past Seattle.
If Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, and Jewell Loyd are healthy going into the WNBA playoffs in 2022, I like their chances of winning the title for the Seattle Storm. pic.twitter.com/XNemptyDN9 — Moody (@EricNMoody) February 4, 2022
Prediction: More than any other first-round series, home-court advantage will be critical in this matchup of teams with identical 22-14 records. Seattle hosts the first two thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker and will likely have huge crowds throughout Bird’s final playoff run. That’s enough to favor the Storm.
What is your take per the predictions? Follow me on Twitter, @kayodemed