A chaotic sprint to the finish line for the WNBA season

The Chicago Sky, the defending champions, are assured of one of the top two spots in the upcoming WNBA playoffs. The rebuilding Indiana Fever is the only team that is an opponent. Everything else is good.

The final week of the WNBA regular season should be a display of the parity and chaos the league has seen all season. Six of the league’s 12 teams are fighting for the final three playoff spots, while teams that have already returned are still fighting hard for seeding.

At the top of the rankings, the Sky are 25-8 and have a two-game lead in the battle for the No. 1 seed. Chicago may fall to the No. 2 seed after Sunday’s win over the Connecticut Sun, but it will still have to hold off the Las Vegas Aces, who spoiled Sue Bird’s final regular-season game with a win at Climate Pledge Arena. Seattle Storm. Chicago and Las Vegas will face each other on Thursday in the final meeting of the regular season.

The Suns are firmly in third place but could still overtake the Aces for the No. 2 seed. However, there is a bigger battle below them as Seattle and the Washington Mystics battle for home-court advantage in what is almost certain to be a playoff matchup between the No. 4 and No. 5 seed. The Storm are at a scheduling disadvantage, with road games against Chicago and Las Vegas surrounding the trip to Minneapolis. Meanwhile, the Mystics finish with two games on the last-place Fever and will play their final regular season game at home.

Among the teams that hope to capture one of the final places in the playoffs, the Dallas Wings are in the best form. They have a 16-16 record with four games remaining – all against teams below them in the standings. Dallas could win two games this week against the Liberty, the first of which was scheduled for Monday night.

Below Wings, however, the race is wide open. With three games each remaining, the Atlanta Dream and Phoenix Mercury are tied 14-19, though the Dream owns the tiebreaker. The Liberty are 13-19 with four games remaining, while the Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks remain at 13-20.

Both the Dream and Mercury were without key players: Atlanta guard Tiffany Hayes missed three games with an ankle injury, while Phoenix was without Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diana Tauras in Saturday’s win over New York. The Liberty finally recovered as Betnija Leni returned to action two months after knee surgery, but forward Natasha Howard went down. Ankle injury.

Those injuries could leave the door open for the 10th-seeded Lynx: They have season tiebreakers against Phoenix and Liberty, and they play in a must-win game at Mercury on Wednesday. But the rest of Minnesota’s schedule is daunting, with games at home against Seattle and on the road against Connecticut. In her favor is the return of Napheesa Collier, who returned on Sunday less than three months after giving birth. (He was motivated by the chance to play again with Sylvia Fowles, who is retiring at the end of the season.)

Ultimately, the Sparks may face a tough road to the playoffs for reasons on and off the court. Los Angeles was the No. 6 seed after a win over the Dream on July 21. But as drama swirled around the departure of four-time All-Star Liz Cambage, the Sparks dropped six straight games and fell to 11th.

Sunday’s win over the Mystics kept their hopes alive. But this week they must play back-to-back games against the third-placed Suns before finishing with the surging Wings. And to make matters worse, Sparks suffered a travel nightmare while trying to leave Washington.

After their flight was delayed and then canceled, some members of the Sparks spent the night at the airport when there weren’t enough hotel rooms for all the players. Former league MVP Nneka Ogwumike said Video posted on Twitter“For the first time in my 11 seasons, I had to sleep at the airport.

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