The WNBA playoffs are almost upon us. The last week of the regular season — with a rare Monday game! — won’t just determine the final two postseason entrants, but also the opening-round matchups as the league welcomes back three-game series in the first round.
Here’s a look at how each of the top five teams can be seeded in the 2022 postseason. We’ll return tomorrow for a look at the bottom three seeds.
Current record: 25-8; Remaining games: SEA, @LVA, @PHX
Possible playoff seeds: 1, 2
Having already secured a franchise-record 25 wins with three games to play, the Sky have locked up a top-two seed.
The path to the top overall seed in the postseason, and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs, requires a magic number of two (Chicago wins and Las Vegas losses). The easiest way to accomplish that is for the Sky to beat the Aces in Las Vegas. If they do, none of the remaining games matter. If they lose to the Aces, then they can still be the no. 1 overall seed with a different combination of two Chicago wins or Las Vegas losses.
A reminder that the Sky are certainly invested in beating the Mercury in the regular-season finale, regardless of playoff seeding. Chicago owns Phoenix’s 2023 first-round pick due to the Diamond DeShields trade and could be able to push the Mercury into the lottery on the last day of the season.
Las Vegas Aces
Current record: 23-10; Remaining games: ATL, CHI, SEA
Possible playoff seeds: 1, 2, 3, 4
A couple of important tiebreakers are still in play in the final week of the Aces season. Winning the season series against Chicago is the only way Las Vegas can get the no. 1 seed, and the Storm could still jump the Aces with a win in the regular-season finale.
The magic number for the Aces to secure the no. 2 seed, and homecourt in the second round of the playoffs, is three (Vegas wins and Connecticut losses). The Aces could fall to third without that magic number and potentially even fourth in a doomsday scenario where Las Vegas loses out and Seattle wins its final three. The Aces would only end up fourth in a two-way tie with the Storm; a three-way tie with the Sun also involved would keep Vegas in third.
Current record: 22-11; Remaining games: @LAS, @LAS, MIN
Possible playoff seeds: 2, 3, 4
The Sun have already earned homecourt in the first round of the playoffs. The carrot of the final week of the season is getting homecourt in the WNBA semifinals, should Connecticut advance that far. The Sun can eclipse the Aces by winning two more games than Vegas over the final three, a tall task but not impossible considering the difficulty of the Aces’ remaining schedule. A three-way tie with the Aces and Storm at 23-13 would also put Connecticut in the second seed.
If the Sun fall short of Las Vegas, one win is all they need to stay in the third seed. If Connecticut loses out and Seattle wins out, then the Sun would be fourth.
Current record: 20-13; Remaining games: @CHI, @MIN, @LVA
Possible playoff seeds: 2, 3, 4, 5
The holy grail for the Storm is the second seed, which is only possible if Seattle wins out AND Las Vegas and Connecticut both lose out. For those of you keeping track at home, that requires nine games to go the Storm’s way.
The Storm could get to the third seed by winning its next three games, having the Aces lose out and the Sun win at least one game. Seattle could also get to third by winning out and having Connecticut lose out.
A more realistic option for the Storm is to finish in fourth. Because they won the tiebreaker over Washington, the Storm can lose one more game than the Mystics over the final week. However, the bad news is that Washington closes with two games against Indiana, so that basically means that Seattle can lose one game in its final three.
The good news is that a three-way tie between the Sun, Storm, and Mystics will keep Seattle in fourth. A three-way tie between Seattle, Washington, and Dallas will also keep the Storm in fourth.
Seattle falls to fifth if the team loses two more games than the Mystics during this final week. That could be as simple as going 1-2 while Washington wins both against the Fever. That would mean the Storm open the postseason across the country with the potential of never getting another game in Seattle for Sue Bird.
Current record: 20-14; Remaining games: @IND, IND
Possible playoff seeds: 4, 5
The outlook for the Mystics is pretty straightforward. If they take care of business against the Fever, then Seattle has to go 1-2 for Washington to move up to the fourth seed. If the Storm go 2-1 or better, then the Mystics are resigned to the fifth seed.
If Washington doesn’t sweep Indiana, then Seattle would have to go 0-3 to allow the Mystics to move up.