Candace Parker, Maya Moore

WNBA Wednesday: Playoff Race

Eight teams make the playoffs. Seven teams have clinched a spot so far. The last spot left to be claimed is the eighth seed, and will be the toughest uphill battle of them all the reach the Finals. If the playoffs started today, the seeding would look something like the graphic below.

WNBA Playoffs 2016


The Phoenix Mercury clinch that last spot with a win or Washington loss, and as far as tiebreakers go, the Indiana Fever hold one over the Chicago Sky and Atlanta Dream while the Dream hold one over the Sky.

In case you don’t know how the WNBA Playoffs work, the first two seeds are automatically in the semifinals, and the third and fourth seed get a first-round bye. The first two rounds are single game elimination and then the rest are best of five. Also, the teams are reseeded after every round.

The Better Eighth Seed

Now that the formalities are out of the way, let’s actually get to some basketball talk. Phoenix and Washington are the two that are battling for the last seed like I mentioned before. So, which of these two teams would make for a more entertaining first-round matchup, and have a better shot at pulling off some upsets?

We’ll start with the Washington Mystics because they have some more of the lesser known players to the general public. The team is lead by two third-year players in Tayler Hill and Emma Meesseman. Both of them are averaging around 15 points per game, and they both average the most minutes per game on the team. The Mystics are 0-3 against the Mercury this season, and if the seeding holds up, they would face an Indiana Fever team that they went 2-1 against during the season.

The Phoenix Mercury, on the other hand, have two players that almost everyone has heard about even without watching the WNBA. The team is lead by Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner. Both of them are one of the best at their respective positions, and they also carry some great veteran leadership that becomes more valuable in the playoffs. On top of the big two, the team has three more players who are all averaging double-digits in scoring. The Mercury, however, only have a 1-2 record against the Fever.

Bottom line: The Phoenix Mercury will most likely get the last spot for the postseason. All they need is one more win, and one of their last two games comes against the worst team in the league, the San Antonio Stars. Furthermore, with a duo like Taurasi and Griner, the Mercury are a team that is hard to bet against. After grabbing a gold medal, these two are not going to want to change to losing ways.

Playoff Predictions:

The first two rounds of the playoffs are the hardest ones to predict. Anything can happen in one game as we’ve seen many times in the sport of basketball. Some shooters may be off, and some may explode for a career night out of nowhere. So, this is why I’m predicting two upsets in the first round. The Seattle Storm and the Mercury will both find ways to win, and they will both be in very close fashion.

Now, that lands us second round matchups of Seattle/Sky and Mercury/Liberty. Here’s where it gets even trickier. One game still decides these teams’ fate, but this is steeper of a matchup for the lower seeded teams. The Liberty have received some great play from the likes of Tina Charles, and the rest of the team seems to follow suit. Also, the Chicago Sky are no stranger to deeper playoff runs with players like Elena Delle Donne and Cappie Pondexter. No upsets in this round, the Sky and Liberty both move on.

Best of five, four teams left, and they’re all going to be some fun outcomes. Finally we get to see the top two teams who had two of the best starts in WNBA history. Maya Moore and the Minnesota Lynx are trying to defend their title, and win their fourth title in six years. They know their way around tough situations and high-pressure games. Then, on the other side of the bracket, the Los Angeles Sparks are itching to get to a Final. Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike have been one of the best one-two punches in the league this season. Both of them have been in the MVP race all season, and it’s near impossible to contain both of them for more than one game. No surprises here either, the Sparks and the Lynx move on.

Here we are, the championship game, and two teams with no more than eight losses are facing off. Parker against Moore is going to produce fireworks. This may be one of the most exciting Finals series in a very long time.

Finals prediction: Los Angeles Sparks win 3 games to 2 – Finals MVP: Nneka Ogwumike

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