Fans of certain teams may have stronger opinions, but without specific rooting interest, the first round of the WNBA playoffs has been a hit. Though the No. 1 Aces and No. 4 Storm enjoyed two-game sweeps, both the No. 2 Sky and No. 3 Sun are in danger of falling early, playing a decisive Game 3 for a spot in the semifinals.
Without the brashness of a single-elimination bracket headliner, the W found a way to set the stage for a series to lead us to a big finale while giving the better team a more fair chance of winning. And that’s the league’s job — to create an opportunity for someone or someones to do something memorable. In this case, it’ll be the Arike Ogunbowale-less No. 6 Wings and pesky No. 7 Liberty.
Both teams will approach Game 3 from a different track record. The Liberty knocked off the Sky in Game 1, but fell in historic fashion in Game 2. The Wings did the reverse.But there’s one big wrinkle to round 1 of the playoffs that needs to be addressed going forward: Game 3 is hosted by the lower seed. The 2-1 (two games at home, then one the road) format was likely done because chartered flights won’t be issued until the finals.
That means Candace Parker, Jonquel Jones and their powerhouse teams, which finished eight and seven games over .500 respectively, will be guests against a pair of teams that fought for a playoff spot into the final week of the season. Dallas finished .500, while New York tapped out four games below.
That isn’t right for the players — especially when some owners are ready to pay the cost to charter planes. If we keep the three-game format going forward, a 1-1-1 format is a necessity. I may even argue for a 1-2 as a compromise.
Still, if not fair, Tuesday and Wednesday night are going to be a lot of fun for the fans.