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The WNBA playoff stakes, explained

Stick with us and we’ll guide you through the chaos.

The WNBA playoff stakes, explained

Let’s start with the wildest scenario possible and work our way backwards. Yes, it is possible that five teams finish with 15-21 records and go through tie-breaker scenarios to determine which two make the playoffs. But no, it is not likely. Still, the WNBA’s postseason seeding carousel can spin in a bunch of ways over the next five days. Let’s catch you up.

 

Six teams are already in

In some order, the Sky, Aces, Sun, Storm, Mystics and Wings have all secured a place in the WNBA playoffs.

  • The Sky can finish no lower than the No. 2 seed
  • The Aces can finish no lower than the No. 4 seed
  • The Sun can finish anywhere from No. 2 to No. 4
  • The Storm can only finish No. 3 if the Sun lose their next three games, otherwise will finish either No. 4 or No. 5
  • The Mystics can only finish No. 4 or No. 5
  • The Wings clinch No. 6 by winning one of their final three games 

 

Five teams are fighting for the final two playoff spots

Literally one game separates No. 7 from No. 11. That’s how tight this playoff race is, with all five teams down to just three games.

 

Right now that looks like this:

  • No. 7 Dream, 14-19
  • No. 8 Mercury, 14-19
  • No. 9 Lynx, 13-20
  • No. 10 Liberty, 13-20
  • No. 11 Sparks, 13-20

 

Here’s how their schedules look

  • Dream: @ Aces, vs. Liberty, @ Liberty
  • Mercury: vs. Lynx, vs. Wings, vs. Sky
  • Lynx: @ Mercury, vs. Storm, @ Sun
  • Liberty: @ Wings, @ Dream, vs. Dream
  • Sparks: vs. Sun, vs. Sun, vs. Wings

 

Ranking the five teams from least to most likely to clinch?

5. The Sparks have the slimmest odds to crack the postseason given their extremely tough schedule, closing the year against the Sun twice, plus they would lose a tie breaker to the Dream, Lynx and Liberty. It’d take a miracle.

4. The Liberty have a relatively easy schedule ahead, but would lose tiebreakers to the Mercury and Lynx, and their back-to-back against Atlanta would determine their tiebreaker fate.

3. The Lynx’s tough end of season schedule against two of the top-4 teams has them as the next least likely to clinch, though Minny owns the tiebreakers over both the Dream and Mercury. Maybe Napheesa Collier’s return will help.

2. The Mercury’s next game against the Lynx will either create separation or put them in the danger zone, and the season-ending Taurasi injury doesn’t help.

1. The Dream own the tiebreaker over the Mercury, and though they play a tough Aces team first, they end the season with a home-and-home against a slumping New York team.

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