Teams fighting for positions in close race as season expires.
By Steve Samek
It’s the heat of the WNBA season. Eight teams enter the playoffs and spots are still up for grabs. Not many though as five of eight teams have punched a ticket to the Tournament.
The 2016 champions LA Sparks sit in the two seed with a mark of 21-8 so far. Ahead of them is their nemesis from the championship series last year the Minnesota Lynx at 22-6.
The Conneticut Sun have the bronze medal seed after a 19-10 record to date. Following them at number four is the League’s hottest team with five wins in a row, The New York Liberty.
In fifth it’s the off-season sighing winners the Washington Mystics. Though both the Liberty and Mystics sport identical 17-12 records.
Phoenix, Seattle and Dallas would round out the eight if the season where over. Chicago and Atlanta are chasing spots, but it doesn’t look good for either team. Atlanta has to be the coldest team in the league, having lost nine in a row.
San Antonio and Indiana have been eliminated from playoff contention. Both teams have won fewer than ten games. Atlanta has ten wins, but with the landslide at which they are headed I see their elimination coming swiftly.
The Sky have a bit of a challenge to get in as well. With a tough final five game slate. The Sky has to play all teams ahead of them in the standings, including Minnesota. They sit three games out of a playoff spot so, they may have to win out with help to get in.
The last three in at the moment should have a leg up on getting in. Seattle and Dallas sit just a game behind Phoenix. Though they each have a three-game lead up on Chicago. Lucky for these teams with the new playoff system in place, it won’t be a don’t finish eighth and get smashed by one last season’s finalists in the first-round situation. Though they still have to win four series to win it all as a five through eight seed.
Look for any head to head matchups down the stretch to settle seeding. The most intriguing of which would be the 1-2 rematch between LA and Minnesota. On August 27,2017. With LA a game behind the Lynx, who have a game an extra game left to play, this is a can’t miss matchup.
Be sure to check out the rest of the season’s sure to be clutch action. See you in the playoffs.
Everyone loves a winner. So why not love these winners in what is looking to be a year of records for the WNBA.
Sue Bird is entering the top 10 in all time points scored. Bird scored 10 against San Antonio on June 6 to become the 10th best point scorer. Bird has tallied at least 5,565 career points. Bird isn’t just happy to score point either. She is the league runner up in all time assists.With 146 more helpers, she can pass the mark of 2,599 held by Ticha Penicheiro. http://www.wnba.com/news/sue-bird-enters-wnba-time-top-10-scoring/
The Washington Mystics are on the move up. After finishing the 2016 season in 10th place in 12th team with an 13-21 record. The team has been making movies to turn themselves into the favorite in 2017.
The biggest move the Mystics made was the acquiring Elena Delle Donne from the Chicago Sky for Stefanie Dobson, Kahleah Cooper and the 2nd overall pick in 2017. After getting Delle Donne the Mystics also added Kristi Toliver via free agency from defending champion Los Angeles.
Toliver is a veteran player who can light it up from three- point range. Toliver hit 42.4 percent from behind the line last season. A mark which was good for fourth in the league in three-point percentage. Interesting enough Delle Donne was ahead of Toliver in three-point percentage, ranking third with a 42.6 percent made.
Delle Donne also contributed a tied for the league lead 21.5 points per game while playing in the fourth most average minutes per league at 33.1. Also on Delle Donne top five offensive ability is her free throw percentage at 93.5 good for second best in the WNBA.http://www.wnba.com/stats/
Complementing the new acquisitions is Emma Meesseman. Meesseman was the WNBA’s top three-point shooter by percentage at 44.8 percent. Additionally, Taylor Hill was resigned by the Mystics. Hill averaged 15 points per game in just above 29 minutes per game for the Mystic last season. The 15 points per game to go along with 32 games started are career highs for the player drafted a couple slots after new acqusion Delle Donne.http://www.wnba.com/player/tayler-hill/#/career
The Mystics should improve on offense and be more accurate on three pointers. This can make them hard to defend from deep. With multiple shooters, able to hit threes as accurate as anyone in the league even a double team would leave other players wide open.
Delle Donne and Toliver also bring playoff experience. Toliver was part of the WNBA champion Sparks last season and Delle Donne’s Sky was the fourth seed in the tournament before losing to the Atlanta Dream in round one. Making this one of the intangibles the Mystic’s could use to make a long playoff run.