WNBA playoff picture, standings, projections: Sky clinch a top-two seed; Sparks keep faint hopes alive

The 2022 WNBA regular season is winding down, but the playoffs are heating up. So far, five teams have punched their tickets to the playoffs – Chicago Sky, Las Vegas Aces, Connecticut Sun, Seattle Storm and Washington Mystics – while Indiana Fever is the only team eliminated.

Looking closer, there haven’t been any seeds locked, and there are a number of exciting races remaining. The top three teams are all in the hunt for the No. 1 seed; The Storm and the Mystics fight for the fourth; and six teams from 6-11. is in a real scrap for the last three places.

As a reminder, the WNBA has once again changed its playoff system. While the top eight teams still make the playoffs, there are no more byes. Instead, each team will begin play in the first round with a standard bracket format featuring the No. 1 seed vs. No. 8 seed, No. 2 seed vs. No. 7 seed, No. 3 seed vs. … No. 6 seed, and No. 4 seed vs. No. 5 seed. The bracket will not be re-seeded after the first round.

The first-round matchups will be best-of-three series, with the higher seeds playing Games 1 and 2 at home, and the lower seed hosting Game 3. The semifinals and finals will both be best-of-five series with a 2nd -2-1 format, meaning the higher seeds will host Games 1, 2 and 5, while the lower seeded team will host Games 3 and 4.

Current position

1. Chicago Sky (25-8) — The playoff spot was clear

2. Las Vegas Aces (23-10) — The playoff spot was clear

3. Connecticut Sun (22-11) — The playoff spot was clear

4. Seattle Storm (20-13) — The playoff spot was clear

5. Washington Mystics (20-14) — The playoff spot was clear

6. Dallas Wings (16–16)

7. Atlanta Dream (14–18)

8. Phoenix Mercury (14-19)

9. New York Liberty (13-19)

10. Minnesota Lynx (13–20)

11. Los Angeles Sparks (13-20)

12. Indiana Fever (5–29) — Eliminated

As the action continues down the stretch, here’s a closer look at the playoff picture:

Race for the No. 1 seed

1. Chicago Sky (25-8) — Playoff spot clinched

  • Remaining Games: 3 (against Storm, on Ace, on Mercury)
  • Tiebreakers: vs. Aces: 1-1 in season series with one game remaining; vs. Sun: won the season series 3-0
  • Current match in the first round: against the No. 8 Phoenix Mercury

The Sky nearly blew a 17-point lead to the Sun, but came up with some big shots down the stretch to secure their second straight win, clinching at least a top-two seed. They still have some work to do to hold off the Aces, especially with the two teams set to meet next week in a game that will decide the tiebreaker between them.

2. Las Vegas Aces (23-10) — Playoff spot clinched

  • Remaining games: 3 (vs. Dream, vs. Sky, vs. Storm)
  • Tiebreakers: vs. Sky: 1-1 in season series with one game remaining; vs. Sun: won the season series 2-1
  • Current match in the first round: against the No. 7 Atlanta Dream

After a surprising loss to the Wings, the Aces bounced back with an impressive road win over the Storm in Sue Bird’s final regular season game in Seattle. A’ja Wilson led the way with 29 points as the Aces kept pace with the Sky in the hunt for the No. 1 seed and went a game ahead of the Sun in the second-place game.

3. Connecticut Sun (22-11) — Playoff spot clinched

  • Remaining games: 3 (two on Sparks, vs. Lynx)
  • Tiebreakers: vs. Sky: lost season series 0-4; vs. Ace: lost season series 1-2
  • Current match in the first round: vs. 6 Dallas Wings

The Sun’s hot streak ended on Sunday afternoon with a heartbreaking loss to the Sky, putting them at 0-4 against the defending champions this season. With that loss, the Suns are officially out of contention for the No. 1 seed. The best they can do now is second place, although that will be a challenge considering they don’t have a tiebreaker against the Aces.

Two teams fighting for No. 4

4. Seattle Storm (20-13)

  • Remaining games: 3 (on Sky, on Lynx, on Aces)
  • Tiebreakers: vs. Mystics: won the season series 2-1
  • Current match in the first round: against the No. 5 Washington Mystics

5. Washington Mystics (20-14)

  • Remaining games: 2 (in case of fever, vs. fever)
  • Tiebreakers: vs. Storm: lost season series 1-2
  • Current match in the first round: against the No. 4 Seattle Storm

One of the tightest races right now is in the middle of the standings where the Storm and Mystics go head-to-head for fourth place and home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Both teams were in action on Sunday, and both suffered losses — the Storm at the hands of the Aces, and Mystics in a somewhat controversial way to Sparks.

These results have the Storm ahead by half a game in the standings with one game to go. The Storm also have the tiebreaker between the two teams, which could be the difference at the end of the regular season.

Places 6-8 are to win

6. Dallas Wings (16–16)

  • Remaining games: 4 (two against Liberty, at Mercury, at Sparks)
  • Tiebreakers: vs. Mercury: 2-1 in season series with one game remaining; vs. Sparks: 1-2 in season series with one game remaining; vs Dream: lost season series 1-2; vs. Liberty: 1-0 in season series with two games remaining; vs. Lynx: won the season series 2-1
  • Current match in the first round: vs. No. 3 Connecticut Sun

The Wings went down by 20 points to the lowly Fever on Saturday night, but they came right back to secure an overtime victory. Now on a season-long four-game winning streak, the Wings are back to .500 and hold a three-game lead over ninth-place Liberty. They are in very good form, but with two games remaining against Liberty they still have some work to do to secure a place.

7. Atlanta Dream (14–19)

  • Remaining games: 3 (at Aces, vs. Liberty, at Liberty)
  • Tiebreakers: vs. Mercury: won the season series 2-1; Sparks: won the season series 2-1; vs Wings: won the season series 2-1; vs. Liberty: 1-1 in season series with two games remaining; vs. Lynx: lost season series 1-2
  • Current match in the first round: vs. No. 2 Las Vegas Ace

The Shorthanded Dream fell to the Lynx on Sunday, losing the tiebreaker between the clubs in the process. They are now clinging to seventh place via a tiebreaker over Mercury, and their lead over ninth-place Liberty is down to half a game with two games left between them. The Dream have some work to do to secure a playoff spot.

8. Phoenix Mercury (14-19)

  • Remaining games: 3 (vs. Lynx, vs. Wings, vs. Sky)
  • Tiebreakers: vs. Sparks: season series tied 2-2, currently own tiebreaker via better record against teams over .500; vs. wings: 1-2 in season series with one game remaining; vs Dream: lost season series 1-2; vs. Liberty: won the season series 2-1; vs. Lynx: lost season series 0-3
  • Current match in the first round: against the No. 1 Chicago Sky

The Mercury finally returned home on Saturday and they got back on track with a massive win over the Liberty despite being without both Skylar Diggins-Smith (illness) and Diana Taurasi (quad). With this win, the Mercury took the season series with the Liberty and jumped them to eighth place in the standings.

9. New York Liberty (13-19)

  • Remaining games: 4 (two on Wings, on Dream, vs. Dream)
  • Tiebreakers: vs. Mercury: lost season series 1-2; vs Sparks: won the season series 2-1; vs. wings: 0-1 in season series with two games remaining; vs. Dream: 1-1 in season series with two games remaining; vs. Lynx: lost season series 1-2
  • Current match in the first round: NOW

Despite Sabrina Ionescu’s excellent play of late, the Liberty’s three-game winning streak came to a frustrating end on Saturday as they shot 30.9 percent from the field and lost to a Mercury team that was without Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi. With that result, they lost the tiebreaker to Mercury and fell to ninth in the standings.

10. Minnesota Lynx (13–20)

  • Remaining games: 3 (by Mercury, vs. Storm, by Sun)
  • Tiebreakers: vs. Mercury: won the season series 3-0; vs Sparks: won the season series 2-1; vs. wings: lost season series 1-2; vs Dream: won the season series 2-1; vs. Liberty: won the season series 2-1
  • Current match in the first round: NOW

The Lynx desperately needed a win on Sunday and they got one when they took care of the dream Napheesa Colliers returns to action. Minnesota is now just one game behind both Phoenix (eighth) and Atlanta (seventh) and has the tiebreaker over both of those teams. With three games left, including one against the Mercury, the Lynx are right about this.

11. Los Angeles Sparks (13-20)

  • Remaining games: 3 (two vs. Sun, vs. wings)
  • Tiebreakers: vs. Mercury: season series tied 2-2, currently losing tiebreaker via worse record against teams over .500; vs. wings: 2-1 in season series with one game remaining; vs Dream: lost season series 1-2; vs. Liberty: lost season series 1-2; vs. Lynx: lost season series 1-2
  • Current match in the first round: vs. N/A

Thanks to a surprising, somewhat controversial win over the Mystics on Sunday, the Sparks finally snapped their six-game losing streak and kept their faint playoff hopes alive. They are just one game behind both the Dream and Mercury for seventh and eighth respectively, but do not have a tiebreaker against either team. In addition, they still have two games left against third place Sun.

The bottom of the playoff picture is something of a mess, with the five teams between seventh and 11th in the spots separated by just one game. Each team has at least one game remaining against the other teams in this group, and only a handful of tiebreakers have been decided. All this means that the current position is not going to stay the same for long.

Eliminated

12. Indiana Fever (5–29)

The Fever have now lost 16 straight games and were the first team to be eliminated from the playoffs. With a sixth consecutive lottery pick, they are hoping for some luck with the ping pong balls to end the worst stretch in franchise history.

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