A Chaotic Sprint to the Finish for the W.N.B.A. Season

The Chicago Sky, the reigning champions, are assured of considered one of the high two spots in the upcoming W.N.B.A. playoffs. The rebuilding Indiana Fever are the solely staff out of rivalry. Everything else is up for grabs.

The closing week of the W.N.B.A.’s common season must be a showcase of the parity and chaos the league has seen all season. Six of the league’s 12 groups are battling for the closing three playoff spots, and the groups which have already clinched are nonetheless jockeying for seeding.

At the high of the standings, the Sky are 25-8 and maintain a two-game lead in the race for the No. 1 seed. Chicago can fall no additional than a No. 2 seed after a win Sunday over the Connecticut Sun, however it would nonetheless want to maintain off the Las Vegas Aces, who spoiled Sue Bird’s closing regular-season recreation at Climate Pledge Arena with a win over the Seattle Storm. Chicago and Las Vegas face off Thursday of their closing regular-season assembly.

The Sun are solidly in the third spot however might nonetheless overtake the Aces for the No. 2 seed. A greater battle is brewing beneath them, although, as Seattle and the Washington Mystics battle for home-court benefit in what is almost sure to be the playoff matchup between the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds. The Storm are at a scheduling drawback, with video games on the highway towards Chicago and Las Vegas round a visit to Minneapolis. The Mystics, in the meantime, end with two video games towards the last-place Fever and play their closing regular-season recreation at dwelling.

Of the groups hoping to clinch considered one of the closing playoff spots, the Dallas Wings are in the greatest form. They maintain a 16-16 file with 4 video games remaining — all towards groups that sit beneath them in the standings. Dallas might clinch a berth with a win in both of its two video games this week towards the Liberty, the first of which was scheduled for Monday night time.

Below the Wings, although, the race is vast open. With three video games left for every, the Atlanta Dream and Phoenix Mercury are tied at 14-19, although the Dream personal the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Liberty are 13-19 with 4 video games left, and the Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks are hanging on at 13-20.

The Dream, the Mercury and the Liberty have all been with out key gamers down the stretch. Atlanta guard Tiffany Hayes has missed three video games with an ankle harm, whereas Phoenix introduced Monday that Diana Taurasi would miss the remainder of the season with a quad harm. For Saturday’s recreation with Phoenix, the Liberty had lastly gotten wholesome as Betnijah Laney returned to motion two months after knee surgical procedure, however ahead Natasha Howard went down with an ankle harm.

Those accidents might depart the door open for the Tenth-place Lynx: They maintain the season tiebreakers over Phoenix and the Liberty, and so they play the Mercury in a must-win recreation Wednesday. But the remainder of Minnesota’s schedule is daunting, with video games at dwelling towards Seattle and on the highway towards Connecticut. In its favor is the comeback of Napheesa Collier, who returned Sunday lower than three months after giving delivery. (A motivating issue for her was the likelihood to play once more with Sylvia Fowles, who’s retiring at the finish of the season.)

Finally, the Sparks could face the most tough path to a playoff berth, for causes on and off the court docket. Los Angeles had been in place for the No. 6 seed after a July 21 win over the Dream. But with drama swirling as the four-time All-Star Liz Cambage left the staff, the Sparks dropped six video games in a row to fall to eleventh place.

A win Sunday towards the Mystics saved their hopes alive. But they have to play back-to-back video games this week towards the third-place Sun earlier than ending up towards the surging Wings. And making issues worse, the Sparks had been caught up in a journey nightmare whereas making an attempt to depart Washington.

After their flight was delayed after which canceled, some members of the Sparks spent the night time in the airport when there weren’t sufficient lodge rooms for all gamers. Nneka Ogwumike, a former league M.V.P., mentioned in a video posted on Twitter, “It’s the first time in my 11 seasons that I’ve ever had to sleep in the airport.”

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