September 19, 2021
WNBA playoff matchups set in final minutes of regular season
New York Liberty secure eighth and final playoff spot
The WNBA playoff picture solidified Sunday with a down-to-wire finish between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Dallas Wings.
Going into Sunday, one playoff berth remained to be claimed. The red-hot Connecticut Sun had already clinched the number one seed, followed by the Las Vegas Aces at the two-seed. As the top two seeds both teams also earned a double-bye into the WNBA semifinals. With wins Friday evening, Minnesota and Seattle were guaranteed either the three or four seed and a single-bye. The five through seven seeds were also secured in order as Phoenix, Chicago and Dallas.
Washington had the first chance to play for the eight seed today against the Minnesota Lynx. Behind 27 points from former Mystic Aerial Powers, 13 boards from Sylvia Fowles and a double-double from Napheesa Collier (14 points, 10 rebounds), the Lynx eliminated the Washington Mystics from playoff contention and secured the three seed. The Mystics loss cleared the way for a “win-it-and-in-it,” play-in opportunity for the Los Angeles Sparks.
The Sparks couldn’t quite finish the job, though, losing a tight 87-84 contest to the Dallas Wings. Te’a Cooper‘s game-high 24-points and a double-double from Nneka Ogwumike could not overpower the Wings, fueled by Arike Ogunbowale‘s 20 point performance.
The Sparks loss clinched the eight seed for the 12-20 New York Liberty, who will face off against Phoenix this Thursday, September 23rd at 10 p.m. E.T. on ESPN2. The Liberty rallied at the end of the season to put themselves in playoff position.
The Minnesota Lynx and Seattle Storm hold the third and fourth spots, respectively, and a single-bye to start the playoffs. As the three seed, the Lynx will host the worst remaining seed to emerge from the (7) Dallas-(6) Chicago and (8) New York-(5) Phoenix matchups this Thursday. As the four seed, the Storm will host the best remaining seed after those games. The winners of both single-elimination games will again be re-seeded prior to matchups with Vegas or Connecticut in the best-of-five semifinals.
The 2021 WNBA playoffs begin this Thursday, September 23rd at 8 p.m. E.T. when the Dallas Wings travel to Wintrust Arena to play the Chicago Sky. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Written by Tee Baker
Tee is a women's basketball reporter and historian. At "The Next" Tee covers the BIG EAST conference and contributes articles and media featuring the WBL, the first professional women's basketball league in the United States.