After another wild finish, the WNBA regular season has come to a close. On Sunday, four teams seeking two final spots in the playoffs battled it out. Additionally, the number one overall seed and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs was still up for grabs. The WNBA switched its playoff format and all teams will play a series, no more sinlge-elimination games.
I personally have always liked the series format. This should help fans – and if we're being honest, players too – manage their travel better for the postseason. The first two rounds are back to a best-of-three series and the rest of the postseason will be a best-of-five series. I hope we get to a 3-5-7 format in the future.
2022 WNBA Playoff Matchups
The Las Vegas Aces (1) will face the Phoenix Mercury (8)
The Chicago Sky (2) will face the New York Liberty (7)
The Connecticut Sun will face the Dallas Wings
The Seattle Storm (5) will face the Washington Mystics (6)
Sunday was a day full of storylines. Here are the cliff notes:
Las Vegas Aces & Seattle Storm with the Game of the Season?
The Aces hosted the Seattle Storm Sunday, and both teams gave us a show in Sin City! All eyes were on A'ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart, the players many (myself included) believe to be the frontrunners for the regular season MVP award.
Stewart casually dropped a double-double in the first half of the game, dropping 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. She would end the night with 21 points and 15 rebounds and a career-high six boards coming on the offensive glass. The Aces slacked off on the box out and gave the Storm 14 second-chance points. Storm guard Jewell Loyd went off for 38 points, but it wasn't enough to secure the win.
A'ja and the Aces came out on top in the high-scoring 109-100 affair. Las Vegas guard Chelsea Gray led her team with 33 points and nine assists in the contest. The Aces used their defensive ability and speed to drop 21 points in transition on Seattle. The win secured home court advantage for the Las Vegas Aces throughout the 2022 WNBA Playoffs.
So Long, Sweet Syl
Earlier in the day, Sylvia Fowles and the Minnesota Lynx tried to prolong their season against the Connecticut Sun. The Lynx needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Connecticut, on the other hand, already secured the third seed and played the game with no implications on the line. The Sun led Minnesota by 14 points after the first quarter. Ultimately, the early deficit would be too much for Minnesota to overcome.
With 43 seconds left, Slyvia Fowles was substituted out for the final time in her professional basketball career. She recorded her 4,000th board Sunday and retired as the all-time rebounder in WNBA history.
New York Liberty Secured Their Fate
The New York Liberty hosted the Atlanta Dream on Sunday. Both teams had a chance to make the playoffs, but the Liberty would be in with a win. The Liberty had a four point lead after the first 10 minutes and that small cushion helped them secure the 87-83 win over former New York Liberty guard and current Atlanta head coach Tanisha Wright.
Natasha Howard and Marine Johannes led New York in points (18) and Stefanie Dolson dropped 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the New York win. Leading Rookie of the Year candidate Rhyne Howard led all scorers with 25 points and led the Dream with 7 assists.
Before the matchup between Atlanta and New York, former Liberty forward Kia Vaughn announced her retirement. Vaughn played 14 minutes and brought down five rebounds in her final WNBA game. Vaughn was a reserve for the Phoenix Mercury last season where she made her first career WNBA Finals. The Mercury fell short to the Chicago Sky in the 2021 WNBA Finals.
Stay tuned for more WNBA Playoffs coverage at Black Rosie Media, including watch parties on Playback. Sign up for a free account today! Our next Playback room will be this Saturday in partnership with the Locked on Kraken podcast.
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