In the 2022 postseason, everyone has to earn their advances, and no team will feel that harsher than the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds. Gone are the days of one-and-done knockout first rounds of the WNBA playoffs. So too are the first and second-round byes given to the top four seeds.
The new rules have the No. 1 seed playing No. 8, No. 2 playing No. 7, No. 3 against No. 6, and No. 4 vs. No. 5 in best-of-3 series. Right now, that leaves the Sun, Storm and Mystics battling for the No. 3 seed, which would earn a first-round playoff series against a sub .500 team instead of, well, each other.
The standings right now:
Storm, 19-12, 1.5 games behind the Sun
Mystics, 19-12, 1.5 games behind the Sun
Who has the best chance of snagging the 3-seed?
The Sun have not only the advantage in the win column (for now), but also own tie-breakers by winning their series against both Seattle and D.C. With a so-so schedule in terms of difficult (vs. Mercury, vs. Mercury, @ Sky, @ Sparks, @ Sparks, vs. Lynx to close the season), they’re the most likely to earn the higher seed.
Can the Storm catch up?
Seattle is still in the running, but spitting their most recent games on the road in Connecticut made things much more difficult. The Storm’s schedule is super tough (vs. Lynx, vs. Aces, @ Sky, @ Lynx, @ Aces), and they’ll likely have to win four of those matchups. They own the tie-breaker over the Mystics.
Can the Mystics catch up?
D.C. will lose any tie-breaking scenario to Connecticut or Seattle, but may have the easiest schedule to close out their season (vs. Aces, @ Sky, vs. Sparks, @ Fever, vs. Fever). Playing Indiana twice is as pleasant a regular season’s end as they could’ve asked for. A lot of luck will have to break their way to avoid playing a 4-5 matchup. But gaining home court advantage is in the realm of possibility.