August 10, 2022
Daily Briefing — Aug. 10, 2022: The WNBA Playoffs Panic Scale
Arike Ogunbowale to miss remainder of regular season, early playoffs with hip injury
Happy Wednesday! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, the NCAA Roundup, the daily Watch List and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 82 of the WNBA season is upon us, and well, we might just have some ties to break. Let’s look at the tiers of panic heading into the WNBA playoffs, with the help of The Next’s Jacob Mox.
The “Just doing our best” Tier:
The Dallas Wings and Phoenix Mercury are the only two teams able to clinch the No. 6 seed at this point. Atlanta doesn’t have enough games remaining to overtake Dallas, even if they win both of their remaining matches. Should either the Wings win or the Mercury lose in today’s games, Dallas will take the sixth spot spot. Phoenix needs Dallas to lose all three of its remaining matches while winning all three of theirs in order to jump to the No. 6 seed.
The “We could panic if we wanted to, but it’s not the end of the world if we don’t” Tier:
Meanwhile, with the Chicago Sky losing to Seattle and the Las Vegas Aces winning on Tuesday night, the battle for the No. 1 seed has gotten much closer. The Sky will visit the Aces on Thursday; if the Sky pull out a win in that match, they’ll clinch the No. 1 seed. If the Aces win, however, they’ll just need to beat Seattle to take over the one seed.
The “There is absolutely no reason for us to panic” Tier:
The highest the Connecticut Sun can seed is at the No. 2 spot, if they win their final two games and Las Vegas loses twice. Otherwise, with just those two wins they’ll lock up the No. 3 seed. No need to panic.
The “Panic. Panic now.” Tier:
Meanwhile, the best the Seattle Storm can do is where they are now, with home-court advantage at the four seed, even if the Sun were to lose twice and Seattle followed up with two wins.
The Washington Mystics still have a chance at the No. 4 seed, if they win their final two matches against the Fever and the Storm lose both of their upcoming games. If Seattle wins just one more, they lock up the fourth seed.
The “If we don’t panic right now, it’s over for us” Tier:
For the Minnesota Lynx and New York Liberty, it’s all or nothing right now. The best both teams could do is the seven seed, but they’ll have to face teams gunning for home court advantage or securing their top spots to get there. For New York, it means battling it out with Atlanta, who they currently sit just one game behind. Either way, it’s all systems go for the Lynx and the Liberty.
The “If we want to make the playoffs, panic. If we don’t, who cares?” Tier:
The Los Angeles Sparks, who would be eliminated with one more loss and join the Fever at the bottom. However, they’re chances at the eight seed improve if they can pull out a win over Connecticut on Thursday.
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But first read…
- Our Gabriella Lewis answers all your Atlanta Dream questions, from potential playoff upsets, to roster moves for next season.
- Our Jenn Hatfield takes you behind the scenes of Shakira Austin’s meteoric rise through the Mystics ranks. Austin “oozes talent,” and this piece oozes all the details.
- Our Lucas Seehafer details Napheesa Collier’s return to the Lynx just 10.5 weeks after giving birth to her daughter.
Dallas: Off-ball guard Arike Ogunbowale will miss at least the remainder of the regular season and first round of the playoffs, the Wings announced. She underwent a successful Iliac Crest Core Muscle Aversion Repair surgery earlier today in Philadelphia.
Out of the portal
- Alina Sendar: The guard out of Georgia committed to Towson. Sendar is a former European Youth Basketball League All-Star.
- Paige Bueckers: On Friday, underwent a successful ACL surgery on her left knee. She began rehab for the injury on Saturday. Bueckers is still expected to miss the 2022–23 NCAA season.
Watch List, Wednesday, Aug. 10
(All times in ET, Game of the Day in bold)
New York @ Dallas, 8 p.m., League Pass (Local: Ball Sports Southwest, YES Network, NBA TV Canada)
Minnesota @ Phoenix, 10 p.m., CBA Sports Network (Local: Bally Sports Arizona, Bally Sports North)
Tuesday, Aug. 9 recap
Seattle (21–13) beat Chicago (25–9), 111–100. The two teams traded baskets through the mid-first, until the Storm took a 6–0 run to push ahead into the lead. From there, Seattle would only expand their advantage, going up by double-digits before the end of the first. The Storm would maintain their lead through the end of the match, as Chicago struggled to cut the lead to single digits. Overall, the Storm shot 15.4 percentage points better from three and grabbed two more steals, despite having six more fouls. The Sky had the advantage in transition, logging 16 fast break points to Seattle’s nine.
While it may not have been as close of a match as one might’ve expected, the game still broke several WNBA records for assists. With 37 assists in one game, the Storm shattered the previous all-time single-game team assist record of 35. The 67 combined assists between the two teams also becomes a new WNBA record, sprinting past the previous no-OT record of 59, per Across the Timeline.
For the Storm, big wing Breanna Stewart led with 25 points on 11-for-19 from the field (2–6 3pt), nine rebounds and five assists. Off-ball guard Gabby Williams notched 21 points on 7-for-9 shooting (2–3 3pt, 5–5 FT), four rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Combo guard Jewell Loyd logged 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting (2–4 3pt, 4–4 FT), four rebounds and three assists. Point guard Sue Bird had 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting (2–5 3pt), eight assists and three steals. In her 16 minutes off the bench, center Ezi Magbegor had 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting (1–1 3pt) and three rebounds (two offensive).
Point guard Courtney Vandersloot led the Sky and all scorers with a career-high-tying 28 points on 10-for-15 shooting (1–3 3pt, 7–10 FT), three rebounds and seven assists against four turnovers. Wing Kahleah Copper logged 17 points on 6-for-13 from the field (1–3 3pt, 4–4 FT), four rebounds and three assists. Big Candace Parker notched 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting (1–5 3pt), seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.
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Las Vegas (24–10) beat Atlanta (14–20), 97–90. The lead passed back and forth between the two teams until an 8–2 Aces run propelled Las Vegas out in front. But Atlanta responded, going on a 6–0 run of their own to tie the game as the second quarter began. The game remained close as the teams traded baskets, neither able to pull away, until the final minute of the fourth quarter. As the Dream went cold from the field, the Aces took advantage at the free throw line, and just managed to run away with the win. Overall, the Dream managed two more steals, but the teams were evenly matched on nearly all fronts. The Aces had the edge in fast break points, notching six more points in transition.
Center A’ja Wilson led the Aces and all scorers with a double-double of 24 points on 7-for-18 shooting (3–5 3pt, 7–7 FT) and 14 rebounds, along with three assists. Point guards Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum combined for 44 points on 17-for-27 shooting (4–10 3pt, 6–6 FT), five rebounds and 14 assists. Wing Jackie Young logged 20 points on 5-for-11 from the field (4–6 3pt, 6–6 FT), three rebounds and three assists. Center Iliana Rupert contributed six points on 2-for-4 shooting (2–4 3pt), one assist and one steal in her 15 minutes off the bench.
For the Dream, off-ball guard Maya Caldwell notched 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting (3–5 3pt) and two assists. Off the bench for Atlanta, point guard Aari McDonald had 16 points on 5-for-11 shooting (3–6 3pt, 3–3 FT), five rebounds and five assists. Wing Rhyne Howard logged 14 points on 4-for-16 shooting (1–5 3pt, 5–7 FT), four assists and three rebounds. With that final three-pointer, Howard became the first player to ever have 77 made threes in their rookie regular season, breaking a Crystal Robinson’s long-standing record of 76, set in 1999.
Connecticut (22–11) beat Los Angeles (13–20), 97–71. The Sparks took the early lead, but the Sun soon eclipsed them, going on a 20–3 run to take a nine-point advantage. Los Angeles was never able to respond and Connecticut never looked back, soon building and maintaining a 20-point lead. Overall, the Sun shot a perfect 13-for-13 from the free throw line and out-rebounded the Sparks by 17. Los Angeles secured two more blocks but allowed the Sun to have 18 second chance points.
Big Jonquel Jones led the Sun and all scorers with a double-double of 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting (3–4 FT) and 10 rebounds (three offensive), alongside two assists. Big wing Alyssa Thomas notched 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting, four rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Thomas joins just nine other players to log that statline or better in less than 30 minutes, and is the only power forward on that list, per Across the Timeline. Center Brionna Jones contributed 14 points on 6-for-11 shooting and four rebounds in her 18 minutes off the bench, while off-ball guard DiJonai Carrington had eight points on 4-for-9 shooting and a career-high-tying seven rebounds in her 15 minutes.
Off-ball guard Brittney Sykes led the Sparks with 18 points on 6-for-17 from the field (6–9 FT), seven rebounds, three assists and a season-high six steals. Big Nneka Ogwumike had 16 points on 8-for-15 shooting, three rebounds, two assists and four steals. Point guard Jordin Canada notched 15 points on 5-for-6 from the field (5–5 FT), two rebounds and six assists.
Written by Isabel Rodrigues
Isabel Rodrigues (she/her) is a contributing writer for The Next from upstate New York who regularly covers 3x3 and the state of women's basketball in the U.S. and internationally. She also covers women's sports for The Daily Princetonian, the independent student newspaper of Princeton University.