In the new postseason format, the first two rounds of the WNBA Playoffs are single-elimination games, creating more excitement for fans and putting more pressure on the teams. The top eight teams in the league, regardless of conference make the postseason. The No. 3 (Washington Mystics) and 4 (Connecticut Sun) seeds get a first-round bye and the No. 1 (Seattle Storm) and 2 (Atlanta Dream) seeds get an automatic placement in the semi-finals.
No. 8 Dallas Wings vs. No. 5 Phoenix Mercury
On Tuesday, the Phoenix Mercury pulled away in the second half to defeat the Dallas Wings 101-83, making Diana Taurasi (26 points, 12 assists) 12-0 in single-elimination games. Phoenix overpowered the Wings with the trio of Taurasi, Brittney Griner (17 points, 5 rebounds), and DeWanna Bonner (29 points, 11 rebounds). Liz Cambage, a leader in the MVP race and who scored the WNBA single-game scoring record of 53 points, was frustrated by Griner. Despite comments that she might not return to the WNBA next season, Cambage is considering returning to the league to help the Wings mount a deeper playoff run next season. The Mercury will face the No. 4 Connecticut Sun on Thursday at 8:30 pm on ESPN2.
No. 7 Minnesota Lynx vs. No. 6 L.A. Sparks
Tuesday’s second game featured the matchup between the Minnesota Lynx and L.A. Sparks. The Lynx and Sparks faced each other in the past three WNBA finals, creating an intense rivalry which has been good for the WNBA. The Sparks defeated the defending champions 75-68 behind Chelsea Gray’s 26 points. The Sparks got a much-needed boost from Nneka Ogwumike who returned to the starting lineup after being out with mono, contributing 19 points and 5 rebounds. This elimination loss ended the historic career of Lindsay Whalen (4 time WNBA Champion, 5 time WNBA All-Star, and 2 time Olympic Gold Medalist), who announced her retirement from the WNBA. Whalen is now the head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers and will continue to help grow the women’s game not only in Minnesota but across the country. The Sparks play the Washington Mystics in the second-round on Thursday at 6:30 pm on ESPN2.