NEW YORK — With one week left in the WNBA season, the playoff picture has become a bit clearer. At least as far as who will be playing in the postseason.
Where teams will be seeded, that’s still is a bit blurry after the top three.
Chicago, Indiana, Atlanta and Seattle all clinched playoff spots Sunday leaving only one berth undetermined.
“It means a great deal especially because we got eliminated in the first round last year and that has been in the back of our heads, and we really want to make an impact this year in the playoffs,” Chicago guard Cappie Pondexter said.
The Sky won without star Elena Delle Donne, who has been sidelined with a thumb injury the past two games.
Phoenix holds a two-game lead on Washington for the final spot and the Mercury need just one win or a loss by the Mystics to secure a place in the postseason. Atlanta clinched a spot despite losing to the Mercury on Sunday.
“Our season has been one of ups and downs. I thought we started the season off right and then we went on a six-game slide, but I think we’ve done a good job of recuperating and getting into this position,” Dream coach Michael Cooper said. “Our goal right now to finish out the last three games is to get that fourth playoff spot and kind of stay there, because again, we could use the rest. But whatever the basketball gods have for us, we’re ready, committed, and we’re going to make a good run.”
Atlanta, Chicago and Indiana are tied for fourth. Whichever team finishes in that spot will get a first-round bye.
The Fever reached the postseason for the 12th straight year. It’s the third longest active streak in American professional sports. While it seems that Indiana is a lock to make the playoffs every year, the Storm qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2013.
“It feels good. You can feel in the locker room there already is a bit of a buzz,” Storm guard Sue Bird said. “It’s not easy at times to make the playoffs in this league and for awhile, I think our franchise even took it for granted because making the playoffs was the expectation. To not get in there the last couple of years and to finally get back feels really good.”
While fourth through eighth is still to be determined, the top three seeds are set. Minnesota clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs with a victory over San Antonio and a loss by Los Angeles to Seattle.
“We are pleased to have finished No. 1 overall in this very tough and balanced league,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Our success this season is a testament to our team’s strong leadership as well as the selfless nature of every single one of our players. Together we have been able to overcome the many challenges of the regular season. Ultimately, while pleased, we also know we have work to do to find success in the playoffs.”
Los Angeles will be the No. 2 seed and New York the 3. With the new playoff format, the Lynx and Sparks have byes until the semifinals.
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