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WNBA playoff image – Which groups will earn the ultimate three playoff spots?

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The WNBA has been break up into its high 5 and everyone else for some time. The defending champion Chicago Sky, the Las Vegas Aces, the Connecticut Sun, the Seattle Storm and the Washington Mystics have already got secured their playoff berths. Now with six groups competing for the three spots left — the Indiana Fever are in spoiler mode — each recreation has a heavier really feel to it.

In fact, it is beginning to really feel like 5 groups going for 2 spots. Issues are trying good for the sixth-place Dallas Wings. They go into the weekend on a excessive, coming off back-to-back victories over the Sky and the Aces, the league’s present high two groups.

Dallas has received 4 of its previous 5 video games and is 15-16. The franchise has completed at .500 or higher simply as soon as since transferring from Detroit after the 2009 season. That was in its final of six seasons in Tulsa, when it went 18-16 in 2015. The following 12 months, the workforce moved to Dallas and has made three playoff appearances since, together with final season, however misplaced its first-round recreation every time.

The Wings have had some tough patches this season, together with shedding six of seven throughout a stretch from late Could to mid June. However Dallas’ March commerce with Indiana for middle Teaira McCowan and a first-round draft decide, which grew to become be guard Veronica Burton, has turned out effectively for Dallas.

It took a short while for McCowan, the No. 3 general decide in 2019, to get warmed up; she did not rating in double figures till June 12. However she has now accomplished that in 10 of her previous 14 video games, together with the previous 5 in a row.

“I am happy with Large T — the best way she’s performing is big,” Dallas coach Vickie Johnson mentioned after McCowan’s 21 factors and 16 rebounds Thursday in opposition to the Aces.

Burton and Tyasha Harris each have stepped ahead the previous two video games to assist make up for the absence of star guard Arike Ogunbowale, who has an ankle harm. Nobody would have predicted that the Wings would beat the Sky and Aces with Ogunbowale sidelined, however that is what makes playoff races thrilling.

How groups compete over the following 10 days will make the distinction between transferring on to the postseason — which this 12 months is again to having a full sequence in each spherical as a substitute of single-elimination video games within the first two rounds — and being within the draft lottery.

Let’s check out what’s at stake on this weekend’s video games, each for groups attempting to safe a playoff spot and people which might be already within the postseason however that wish to preserve or enhance their seeding.

Friday

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Atlanta’s Rhyne Howard comes up with a giant block on the defensive finish after which capitalizes on the different with a jumper.

Sparks at Dream; Mystics at Sky: There is not any technique to sugarcoat it: The Los Angeles Sparks‘ season has taken a nosedive, as they’ve misplaced 5 in a row. In accordance ESPN’s BPI projections, Los Angeles’ hopes of constructing the postseason have fallen to 10.3%. If the Sparks miss the playoffs, it will likely be the primary time for the reason that WNBA’s first two seasons — 1997-98 — that Los Angeles has accomplished that two years in a row. In the meantime, the Atlanta Dream are projected to have a 56.2% likelihood of getting a playoff berth. That may appear excessive for a workforce that has misplaced seven of its previous 10, however at 13-18, the Dream and the Liberty at the moment declare the final two playoff spots. Atlanta has not been within the postseason since 2018.

Washington has the identical 20-12 file as Seattle and has performed effectively for the reason that All-Star Recreation, profitable six of eight. Elena Delle Donne has had loads to do with that, however she will not be touring to Chicago as a part of her relaxation routine. The Sky are coming off a loss to Dallas, however they’ve received seven of 9 for the reason that All-Star Recreation. Chicago has 5 video games left, 4 in opposition to groups that even have already clinched their playoff spots. The Sky, in fact, are enjoying to have home-court benefit all through the postseason.

Saturday

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Skylar Diggins-Smith discusses the issue in enjoying after Brittney Griner’s sentencing was introduced.

Fever at Wings; Liberty at Mercury:

Johnson made it clear that the very last thing the Wings are doing is overlooking Indiana, even when the Fever have misplaced 15 video games in a row. Indiana has 5 video games left, two of them in opposition to the Wings. Dallas began a four-game house stand Thursday in opposition to the Aces, and this recreation in opposition to Indiana is one which the Wings merely cannot let get away.

The Mercury end the common season with 4 video games in Phoenix at Footprint Middle, the place they’re 9-5 vs. 4-14 on the street. After an emotional loss at Connecticut on Thursday following the information of Brittney Griner’s sentencing in Russia, Phoenix wants a powerful end to make the playoffs. The percentages are with the Mercury, who’re projected to have a 62.7% likelihood on the postseason.

Diana Taurasi (proper quad) did not play Thursday, the primary recreation she has missed this season.

“She is each day; we’re hopeful to get her again quickly,” Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard mentioned. “We’re blissful to be returning to Phoenix. We now have performed significantly better at house than we now have on the street this season. Three of the video games are in opposition to groups we’re competing with for these ultimate playoff spots.”

That features Saturday’s opponent, the New York Liberty, who’ve gone about resurrecting their playoff hopes by profitable three in a row and 4 of their final 5. That has moved the Liberty’s playoff odds as much as 48.2%.

Sunday

Solar at Sky; Sparks at Mystics; Aces at Storm; Dream at Lynx: The doubleheader on ABC begins at 1 p.m. ET with Connecticut-Chicago, adopted by Las Vegas-Seattle. The latter will probably be Sue Hen’s final regular-season house recreation after 19 seasons with the Storm, and it’s a sellout. The Aces proper now have the second-best likelihood to win the league title in accordance with BPI (28%), however they’re coming off back-to-back losses earlier than strolling into Sunday’s Hen nostalgia present.

Which workforce tasks as most probably to win the championship? The Solar at 34.5%. Connecticut, tied with Las Vegas at 22-10 within the WNBA standings, is looking for its first league title, as are the Aces. The Solar had the league’s greatest file final season however then have been defeated within the semifinal by Chicago. They Sky have continued to have Connecticut’s quantity this season, profitable their first three matchups.

The Sparks, as talked about, have been fading quick and must tackle the Mystics, who’ve been going the other way. Los Angeles will probably be ending a stretch of six of seven on the street.

Lastly, the Minnesota Lynx — who needed to endure a quick break clinic at Seattle on Wednesday — are 12-20 with simply 4 video games left. Minnesota has not missed the playoffs since 2010, however the Lynx have only a 25.9% likelihood of constructing the postseason this 12 months, in accordance with projections.

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