It’s WNBA Finals time again! With the compact WNBA season starting in May and ending on August 19th, the eight teams that kept their postseason hopes alive are slotted in for playoff action starting on Tuesday, August 21st.
2018 Playoff Format
Since 2016, the WNBA has employed a new playoff format that also changed seeding and qualification procedures. The postseason structure consists of the eight teams with the highest winning percentages, regardless of conference, and are seeded solely based on their record.
There are four playoff rounds; the third and fourth seeds receive a bye to the second round and the top two seeds receive a bye to the semifinals (third round).
The first and second rounds of the playoffs are single elimination and the semifinals and finals rounds are best out of five format. Teams are re-seeded after each round.
Here are the officials who will be working this year’s playoffs.
Dallas Wings (#8) vs. Phoenix Mercury (#5)
Let’s start from the bottom; the Dallas Wings, who barely squeaked by this season to capture the eighth and final spot in the playoffs. With incredible offensive performances from Liz Cambage this season, the Wings match up well against their fifth-seeded opponent in the Phoenix Mercury in the first round. With that being said, it’s hard not to imagine Mercury veteran Diana Taurasi and co. coming out on top. You have to give the Wings credit for overcoming adversity to get into the playoffs, but if the Mercury show up ready to play, the Wings will not get out the first round. The Mercury led their season series with the Wings two games to one, but the strength in the seasoned veterans in Dewanna Bonner, Brittney Griner, Taurasi, and Briann January will ultimately reign supreme in this first round battle.
My prediction: Mercury advance to round 2
Minnesota Lynx (#7) vs. Los Angeles Sparks (#6)
Nobody could have foreseen the 2016 and 2017 WNBA Finalists duking it out in the first round of the 2018 WNBA Playoffs. This will be a tough game and an all-out dog fight. Both teams have superstars and veterans on their team that have the playoff poise to get the job done. It will come down to depth and strength of bench play for this match up, which gives the Sparks a slight edge.
My prediction: The Sparks will advance to round 2
Winner of Wings/Mercury vs. Connecticut Sun (#4)
With great play for Jonquel Jones, Chiney Ogwumike and Jasmine Thomas, this Sun team has strength in continuity. But once the Mercury get into playoff mode, it’s going to be hard for the Sun to beat the veteran squad.
My prediction: Mercury advance to Semifinals
Winner of Lynx/Sparks vs. Washington Mystics (#3)
The Mystics have been led this season by Elena Delle Donne, and no matter who they face in round two, they should be in a strong position to advance. This tough Mystics team has played well this season, and this will be their opportunity to prove they deserve to go deep in the playoffs.
My prediction: Mystics advance to Semifinals
Round 3: Semifinals
No matter who advances to the semifinals, the two teams waiting are going to be ready to play. The Dream definitely have showed perseverance and grit to get to the #2 seed in the playoffs. Losing powerhouse and 2018 WNBA all-star Angel McCoughtry to a season ending injury to her left knee did not knock the Dream out of step. It will be tough to overcome her loss, but the Dream have heart this season that I think will be tough to beat.
The Storm have had an awesome 2018 season! The veteran leadership of Sue Bird has been strong and the play from Breanna Stewart has her in contention for player of the year. The Storm have been great to watch this season and as cliche as it is to think, the #1 seed walks away with the championship!