WNBA playoff photo, standings, tiebreaker explained: Storm clinch No. 4 seed; Mercury and Liberty get big wins

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With the 2022 WNBA regular season just days away, we had some dramatic late twists up and down the playoff picture. The Aces beat Sky on Thursday to take first place via a tiebreaker, while four teams are still in the hunt for the remaining two spots. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Sparks joined the Indiana Fever in the eliminated category.

As a reminder, the WNBA has once again modified its playoff system. While the top eight teams will still make the playoffs, there’s no more bye. Instead, each team will start play in the first round with a standard bracket format that includes the #1 seed vs. the #8 seed, the #2 seed vs. the #1 seed. No. 7, the No. 3 seed against the No. 6 seed, and the No. 4 seed against the No. 5 seed. The bracket will not be reseeded after the first round.

The first-round matches will be best-of-three series, with the higher seed playing Games 1 and 2 at home, and the lower seed hosting Game 3. The semi-finals and finals will all be two of the best-of-five series with a 2-2-1 format, meaning the top seeds will host Games 1, 2 and 5, while the team with the bottom seed will host Games 3 and 4 .

Current ranking

1. Las Vegas Aces (25-10) – Place in the playoffs won

2. Chicago Sky (25-10) – Place in the playoffs won

3. Connecticut Sun (24-11) – Unhooked playoff spot, unhooked position

4. Seattle Storm (21-13) – Unhooked playoff spot, unhooked position

5. Washington mystics (21-14) – Unhooked playoff spot, unhooked position

6. Dallas Wings (17-17) – Unhooked playoff spot, unhooked position

7. Phoenix Mercury (15-20)

8. Liberty of New York (15-20)

9. Minnesota Lynx (14-21)

10. Atlanta Dream (14-21)

11. Los Angeles Sparks (13-22) — Eliminated

12. Indiana Fever (5-30) — Eliminated

Note: Ties between two teams are broken first by a head-to-head record and then, if necessary, a better record against teams with a .500+ record. In the event of a tie between multiple teams, the tiebreaker becomes the combined head-to-head record against the other teams.

As the action continues, here’s a preview of the playoff image:

Race for the No. 1 seed

1. Las Vegas Aces (25-10) – Playoff spot clinched

  • Games remaining: 1 (against Storm, Sunday)
  • Tiebreaker: vs Sky: series of the season won, 2-1
  • Current match of the first round: vs. No. 8 New York Liberty

The Aces are back on track and also back in the top spot. They beat Sky in rather comfortable fashion on Thursday to win the clubs tiebreaker and extend their winning streak to three games. However, they still have some work to do to secure the No. 1 seed for the playoffs. Either a victory over the Storm or a loss of the Sky against the Mercury will do.

2. Chicago Sky (25-10) – Playoff spot clinched

  • Games remaining: 1 (at Mercury, Sunday)
  • Tiebreaker: vs. As: lost season streak, 1-2
  • Current match of the first round: against No. 7 Phoenix Mercury

Sky have had trouble with Aces this season and lost to them again on Thursday night. In the aftermath, they lost the clubs tiebreaker and fell to second place in the table for the first time since July 1. The defending champions still have hopes of stealing the No. 1 seed, however, the Sky must beat the Mercury. and the Aces are to lose to the Storm in their respective final matches.

Sun secures third place

3. Connecticut Sun (24-11) – Playoff spot clinched, position clinched

  • Games remaining: 1 (vs. Lynx, Sunday)
  • Tiebreaker: N / A
  • Confirmed first round match: vs. 6 Dallas Wings

The Sun crushed the travel-weary Sparks for the second straight game on Thursday night. Their win, combined with the Aces’ win over the Sky, means the Sun are now locked in third place. Coincidentally, the only other seed that has been determined so far is the Wings in sixth. These two teams will meet in the first round of the playoffs.

Storm wins in a back-and-forth for fourth place

4. Seattle Storm (22-13) – Playoff spot clinched, position clinched

  • Games remaining: 1 (at Aces, Sunday)
  • Tiebreaker: vs. Mystics: season series won, 2-1
  • Current match of the first round: vs Washington Mystics #5

5. Washington Mystics (21-14) – Playoff spot clinched, position clinched

  • Games remaining: 1 (against Fever, Sunday)
  • Tiebreaker: vs. Storm: lost season streak, 1-2
  • Current match of the first round: against Seattle Storm #4

One of the tightest races in the streak was the Storm against Mystics for fourth place and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. At the end of July, the Storm clinched the tiebreaker between the two clubs, and because of that, they have now locked down the No. 4 seed with one game to go.

Both teams won comfortably on Friday night, as the Mystics defeated lowly Fever and the Storm crushed the Lynx in Sylvia Fowles’ final home game in Minneapolis. With these results, the Storm remain one game ahead of the Mystics heading into Sunday’s regular season playoffs.

Now, the worst the Storm can do is have the same record as the Mystics at the end of the season, and in that scenario, the tiebreaker would give them the upper hand. These two teams will meet in the first round and Seattle will have the home court advantage.

Wings locked in sixth

6. Dallas Wings (17-18) – Playoff spot clinched, position clinched

  • Games remaining: 1 (at Sparks, Sunday)
  • Tiebreaker: N / A
  • Confirmed first round match: vs. No. 3 Connecticut Sun

Wings return to playoffs, and they’re locked into the No. 6 seed despite losing to Liberty on Wednesday night. The key now is to manage player rest and start preparing for the Sun, who are league best 8-2 in their last 10 games.

Two last places to win

7. Phoenix Mercury (15-20)

  • Games remaining: 1 (vs Sky, Sunday)
  • Tiebreaker: vs. Dream: season streak lost, 1-2; against Liberty: series of the season won, 2-1; vs. Lynx: lost season streak, 0-4
  • Current match of the first round: against the No. 2 Chicago Sky

Such is the nature of this season’s playoff race that the Mercurys were 10th heading into Friday’s slate of games and are now seventh after an impressive victory over the Wings. They are due to face Sky in the final game of the season on Sunday and do not have the tiebreaker against Dream or Lynx, however, so they are by no means guaranteed a place just yet.

8. Liberty of New York (15-20)

  • Games remaining: 1 (vs. Dream, Sunday)
  • Tiebreaker: vs. Mercury: lost season streak, 1-2; vs. Dream: 2-1 in the season series with two games remaining; vs. Lynx: lost season series, 1-2
  • Current match of the first round: against the No. 1 Las Vegas aces

The Liberty were also out of the playoffs on Friday morning, but are now back in the picture after a massive victory over the shorthanded Dream. However, they’re also not in great shape when it comes to the tiebreaker, so beating the Dream again on Sunday to clinch their spot would be the safest course of action.

9. Minnesota Lynx (14-21)

  • Games remaining: 1 (to Sun, Sunday)
  • Tiebreaker: vs. Mercury: season streak won, 4-0; against Dream: series of the season won, 2-1; vs Liberty: series of the season won, 2-1
  • Current match of the first round: N / A

Sylvia Fowles’ celebration on Friday night was somewhat tarnished by a disastrous loss to the Storm that left the Lynx on the verge of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010. On the bright side, the Sun has nothing to play Sunday and the Lynx have the tiebreaker against every other team in the chase, so they still have a chance. A little thin, but better than nothing after a 3-13 start.

10. Atlanta Dream (14-21)

  • Games remaining: 1 (at Liberty, Sunday)
  • Tiebreaker: vs. Mercury: season series won, 2-1; vs. Liberty: 1-2 in the season series with one game to play; vs. Lynx: lost season series, 1-2
  • Current match of the first round: vs. N/A

The Dream’s late-season slide to the shorthanded continued Friday with a loss to the Liberty that was its third straight loss and seventh in nine games. They now face a must-see Sunday road game against the Liberty to even have a shot at making the playoffs.

Eliminated

11. Los Angeles Sparks (13-22)

Coming off a second straight loss to the Sun, the Sparks have now lost eight of their last nine games, which is just not going to happen at any time, but especially in the final month of the season. They will now miss the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1997 and 1998 – their first two years in existence. Worse still, they don’t have their first pick this year after trading him as part of the Chennedy Carter deal.

12. Indiana Fever (5-29)

The fever has now lost 17 straight games and was the first team eliminated from the playoffs. With a sixth straight lottery appearance, they’re hoping to get lucky with the ping pong balls to help end the worst streak in franchise history.

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