WNBA playoff field set; Chicago to face Connecticut in single elimination match in opening round


The Chicago Sky and Connecticut Sun tip off during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Bradenton, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

The WNBA playoff field is finally set and will tipoff Tuesday now that the league’s abridged 22-game season has come to an end.

The postseason will begin Tuesday with the defending champion Washington Mystics taking on Diana Taurasi and Phoenix in a single elimination game in the opening round. Chicago will face Connecticut in the other opening round later Tuesday night.

It went down to the last day — and the last game — of the regular season before the field was set.

Las Vegas and Seattle already knew Sunday they would be the top seeds in the postseason before their matchup on the season’s final day. The Aces clinched the No. 1 seed beating the short-handed Storm, who were missing stars Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird to foot injuries. Both have have a week to rest as Seattle and Las Vegas both earned double-byes into the best-of-5 semifinal series that will begin on Sunday.

It’s the first time that the Aces are the top seed. They were in a three-way battle for No. 1 spot and over a 24-hour span had to beat Los Angeles on Saturday and Seattle on Sunday to secure the berth.

“Who would have thunk it?” coach Bill Laimbeer said after the win Sunday. “We end up with the best record in the league for the regular season. That’s a pretty good accomplishment for our basketball team. … We realize we’ve won nothing. We put ourselves in a position to get into a series with only four teams remaining and that’s an accomplishment in itself.”

While Las Vegas and Seattle played for seeding on Sunday, the Mystics were playing to get in.

Washington needed a victory in its final game, beating Atlanta, to give the Mystics the final spot in the playoffs and a chance to repeat as WNBA champions — a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since Los Angeles did it in 2001-02.

“The work we’ve done the last few weeks when most teams would have quit has paid off,” Mystics Coach Mike Thibault said. “It’s a great, great testament to how they’ve hung in. It’s just a wonderful feeling anytime you win. But to do it how we’ve done to get in, it’s a great feeling.”

The Mystics, who lost 12 of 13 games during a stretch in the season, have now reached the playoffs four years in a row and in seven of the past eight years. This might have been their most improbable appearance over that stretch since the team was missing four starters from last season’s championship run including league MVP Elena Delle Donne.

There is no margin for error in the postseason. The league switched to the single-elimination format for the first two rounds of the playoffs in 2016.

Los Angeles and Minnesota earned byes into the second round by finishing third and fourth and await the winners of Tuesday night’s games.


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