With just one week to go before the 2022 WNBA regular season, here’s an idea of who will make it, who won’t, and who could make the WNBA playoffs this year.
Don’t blink or you could miss the end of the WNBA season.
That’s correct. We’re just over a week away from the end of the season. The battle for the final playoff spots is heating up and in this week’s Above The Break we’ll take stock of where each team in the league currently stands in the playoffs
The teams that secured a place in the playoffs
Chicago Sky, Las Vegas Aces, Connecticut Sun, Seattle Storm, Washington Mystics
There are five WNBA teams that are over .500. These are also the five teams that have officially secured playoff spots.
And there are no real surprises in this group. If you had told me before the season to predict the five teams that would win 20 games, these teams would be it. Chicago, Las Vegas, Connecticut and Seattle were the clear top teams in the league going into this season, with the Mystics in a position where a healthy Elena Delle Donne could nudge them into this conversation. Delle Donne has been healthy (mostly) this season and the Mystics are 20-12 this season. I knew it was a wise decision on my part to bet them 14-1 to win the title.
The Sky has a two-game lead in the losing column in Vegas and Connecticut, making it look like The Sky will end the season as the No. 1 seed.
The team that does not make the playoffs
The Fever have been out of playoff competition for a while. Officially at least. Unofficially, this team has been out of the running for months.
Indiana has lost 15 games in a row. The team is 5-28 on the season. His best player, Kelsey Mitchell, is done for the year.
There are many reasons to believe that the fever is on the right way. NaLyssa Smith played great and Queen Egbo was a surprise. The rookie class wasn’t perfect, but it helped this team build from where it was last season. There’s a future here that hasn’t really been said lately. The Fever felt stuck in Purgatory, but now that they’ve bottomed out, they can finally do the rebuilding they should have done years ago but never did because of bad drafts.
The Dallas Wings practically locked down the six seeds
The Wings could have a really bad week and see their two-game lead for the sixth seed disappear, but it seems pretty clear at this point that we’re not going to suddenly win every other team in the playoff picture and threaten the Wings .
Dallas really held out this year. With Satou Sabally sidelined for most of this season, you’d think the Wings would have folded. But the team slowly figured things out. Teaira McCowan is finally getting starter minutes and delivering double-doubles at an absurd rate. She had 21 points and 16 boards against the Aces on Thursday night as the team went through another game without Arike Ogunbowale. This Wings team worked because so many of the individual pieces know how to play as a team. Allisha Gray and Kayla Thornton are the kind of sticky players every team needs. Veronica Burton adds her name to the long list of Impact rookies this year. The rotation finally makes sense instead of being everywhere every night. So, unless things get weird, congratulations to the Wings on the six seeds. Very strange.
The fight at seven and eight
New York Liberty, Atlanta Dream, Phoenix Mercury, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx
And here lies the drama.
Let’s start at the bottom with the Lynx. While the other teams in the losing column are all within a game of each other, Minnesota is two behind the eight seeded. It looks like Minnesota’s poor start will doom the team to a missed playoff appearance. I hope to write more about what’s next for Minnesota, but make sure you watch this team’s games as we continue, as it’s likely that Sylvia Fowles’ career will be in the regular season and not will end in the postseason.
Four teams are fighting for the other two playoff spots.
The Liberty is currently in seventh place. They face none of the teams above .500 for the rest of the season and they have won three straight games despite having two games left against the Wings. Sabrina Ionescu has finally become the player people expected Ionescu to be. Han Xu offers this team some really intriguing things off the bench. There are definitely still consistency issues, but New York overcoming a 24-8 deficit in the first quarter to beat the Sparks on Wednesday was something this team wouldn’t have done earlier in the season. That they are doing it now is a sign that this team might finally figure out how to win the ugly games.
Atlanta is the eighth seed right now. The Dream has dealt with so many injury issues this season. For example, in their last game against Fever, the team needed 23 minutes from Maya Caldwell and 15 from Kia Vaughn. Naz Hillmon plays more than 30 minutes per game, which is definitely not what the team planned for this season, right? But with Rhyne Howard’s strike, Atlanta keeps finding ways to win games. They still have Vegas plus two games to play against the Liberty, so getting past the Sparks and Lynx in the next two games is crucial.
As for the two teams sitting outside the playoff picture as of this writing, we have the Mercury at 13-19 and the Sparks at 12-19. Los Angeles seemed destined to make the playoffs, but a five-game losing streak sees this team sink. I initially thought that going on with Liz Cambage would be addition through subtraction, but then last week I did buried in some numbers and started to feel a lot less sure about it. And it looks like I was right to feel uncomfortable about this team! Cambage had her limitations, but she could easily score in the paint and deter drives at the other end. With her gone, the Sparks look lost. With the Mystics still to come plus two games against the Sun, Los Angeles will likely be sitting at home when the playoffs begin.
That brings us to Mercury. This has been a tough season. A very tough season. Phoenix’s best player, Brittney Griner, was unjustly imprisoned in Russia all season and the Mercury tried to do what they could without Griner.
And something worked, but then Tina asked Charles and the Mercury were forced to play extremely small with Shey Peddy and Sophie Cunningham both on the starting lineup. And while these players initially produced some good things offensively, the lack of depth and difficult minutes from the starting XI took their toll. The team has now failed to score 70 points in three straight games, and while many teams appear to have five games left, Phoenix have just four left, including a season-ending game against Chicago. Diamond DeShields is back but now Diana Taurasi is injured although she could be back in the next game.
Overall, the picture of the WNBA playoffs is murky, but it’s becoming clearer. New York and Atlanta should get the seventh and eighth seeded spots, depending on how the teams play. But that’s the W: Something strange can always happen that completely changes the picture.
https://fansided.com/2022/08/05/wnba-playoff-picture-breakdown/ WNBA playoff picture breakdown