WNBA playoffs: Lynx clinch No. 3 seed while Liberty sneak in after Mystics, Sparks lose

·4-min read

It's playoff time in the WNBA and the final day of the regular season lived up to the hype. Seeding came down to the final day's slate of five game and hinged critically on the Washington Mystics hosting the Minnesota Lynx. 

It was the Lynx who prevailed, 83-77, to secure the No. 3 seed and eliminate the Mystics from the postseason picture. The Mystics, who have undergone a rough-and-tumble season, were without head coach Mike Thibault due to health and safety protocols. A win either Friday against the New York Liberty or against the Lynx would have clinched their bid. 

Instead, the Sparks now held control of the spot with the losses as they took the court in Dallas against the Wings. And they also relinquished it, falling 87-84 despite 18 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks from Nneka Ogwumike. The Sparks will miss the playoffs for only the fifth time in the franchise's and league's 25-year history. 

That loss gave the New York Liberty, who had the day off, their first playoff berth since 2017. 

The Wings did have something to play for in all this, as noted on the team broadcast. At least, the organization might be thinking about it. Dallas has the Sparks' 2022 first-round draft pick and now that the Sparks fell into the four-team lottery, they have a chance at a No. 1 pick. 

Seeds for WNBA playoffs

1. Connecticut Sun (26-6) — The Sun have the longest win streak entering the playoffs in WNBA history after winning their 14th consecutive on Sunday.

2. Las Vegas Aces (24-8) — Reigning MVP A'ja Wilson and the Aces locked in the spot on Friday and got back Liz Cambage, who was in the health and safety protocols earlier this month.

3. Minnesota Lynx (22-10) — Aerial Powers scored 27 points, Napheesa Collier put up a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double and the Lynx held off a Natasha Cloud-led Mystics comeback to keep the higher seed.

4. Seattle Storm (21-11) — A rough patch after the Olympic break, and being without Breanna Stewart the last few games, hurt the Storm's chances.

5. Phoenix Mercury (19-13) — The Friday night loss to Seattle sealed the Mercury into fifth. They fell to the Aces on Sunday.

6. Chicago Sky (15-16) — Chicago was also locked in heading into the final weekend.

7. Dallas Wings (14-18) — Dallas locked in its spot on Friday and goes into the playoffs with a solid win against the Sparks

8. New York Liberty (12-20)

First-round matchups and how to watch 

The first round will be played Thursday. ESPN has exclusive rights to the playoff schedule. 

No. 7 Dallas Wings at No. 6 Chicago Sky, 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2 — The Wings hold the edge, 2-1, in the season series. They went 1-1 in Chicago. 

No. 8 New York Liberty at No. 5 Phoenix Mercury, 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2 — The Mercury are 2-1 in the series with both wins coming last week.  

Playoff schedule 

The second round will be Sunday, Sept. 26 with the No. 3 seed hosting the worst remaining seed out of the first round. The No. 4 seed will host the other playoff game. 

The best-of-five-semifinals begin Tuesday, Sept. 28. The best-of-five WNBA Finals are scheduled to start Sunday, Oct. 10. The full schedule for the semifinals and finals (*if necessary): 

Semifinals (best of five)

Game 1: Tuesday, Sept. 28

Game 2: Thursday, Sept. 30

Game 3: Sunday, Oct. 3

Game 4: Wednesday, Oct 6*

Game 5: Friday, Oct. 8*

WNBA Finals (best of five)

Game 1: Sunday, Oct. 10

Game 2: Wednesday, Oct. 13

Game 3: Friday, Oct. 15

Game 4: Sunday, Oct. 17*

Game 5: Tuesday, Oct. 19*

Sunday notes heading into the playoffs 

DeWanna Bonner left the Sun's game against the Atlanta Dream in the first quarter with an apparent injury, though she walked off mostly on her own. Her back locked up, per the team broadcast, and she is dealing with back tightness.

The Sun won't return to the court until Tuesday, Sept. 28 when the semifinals begin. Alyssa Thomas returned last week less than nine months after an Achilles injury appeared to rule her out for the entire season. 

Though the game didn't mean anything for the standings, the Aces went into their nine-day playoff break with a bang. 

Korean Olympian JiSu Park pulled out the volleyball skills to deny Brianna Turner on the final shot and preserve an 84-83 victory.

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