After a grueling 40-game regular season filled with loads of excitement, the WNBA regular season has come to an end. Each team played its final game on Sunday, September 10, in a jam-packed day of basketball.
In the playoffs, the first and eighth seeds, second and seventh seeds, third and sixth seeds, and fourth and fifth seeds will go against each other in best-of-three contests. Those winners will move on to the semifinals, which are best-of-five contests. Then, those winners will go on to the Finals, which is also a best-of-five contest.
All eight of these teams have worked hard to make it to the postseason, but is there anything any of them can do better? This article will go into detail about each of the eight teams competing to win the championship this post-season.
#1- Las Vegas Aces
The 2023 season for the Las Vegas Aces has been nothing short of spectacular. Led by MVP candidate A'ja Wilson, the Aces finished the season with only six losses. Wilson leads the league in points per minute, defensive rating, and blocks per game. She also recorded 200 steals during the regular season. She also had a 53-point performance against the Atlanta Dream, which tied the record set in 2018 by Liz Cambage. The Aces are favored to make the Finals this season.
However, this team has faced difficulty when their main starting five gets tired. When they face exhaustion, this is where many teams are able to take advantage of that and pull off the upset against them. The New York Liberty have been able to beat the Aces twice, and the Connecticut Sun, Dallas Wings, Los Angeles Sparks, and Washington Mystics have done this once. This shows that beating the number one team in the league may be difficult, but it is not impossible.
#2- New York Liberty
The 2023 edition of the New York Liberty has been extraordinary. This team was definitely one of the busiest in the previous offseason. By signing Courtney Vandersloot, Breanna Stewart, and Jonquel Jones, and acquiring Kayla Thornton via trade, the sky was the limit for the Liberty. This team has really changed the trajectory of the Liberty franchise as a whole. The Liberty are also favorites to make a push to the Finals.
Although this team has gotten close to winning it all in the past, in order to give them that extra push, they need everyone on the team to play the best basketball they can. With this ultra-talented team of Courtney Vandersloot, Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones, Sabrina Ionescu, and Betnijah Laney, this team has the power to beat whoever challenges them in the playoffs. One of the Liberty's trademarks is the power that they have provided off the bench. Marine Johannes, Kayla Thorton, Stef Dolson, and Nyara Sabally can provide those extra points coming off the bench in order to give the starting lineup a rest.
#3- Connecticut Sun
At the beginning of the season, the Sun was faced with a challenge when their star player, Brionna Jones, was declared out for the season with a torn Achilles.
There are still many games when her presence on the court is missed, but MVP candidate Alyssa Thomas has become a leader for this team. She averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds a game. The veteran forward finished the regular season averaging a league and career-best 9.9 rebounds per game.
14-year veteran DeWanna Bonner has also helped the Sun gain the third seed in this year's playoffs. Bonner has averaged 17.7 points and 5.7 rebounds this season. With DeWanna Bonner and Alyssa Thomas, the Sun is sure to make a strong case for themselves as they head into their first game.
#4- Dallas Wings
At the start of the season, the Dallas Wings were an injury-riddled team and still had a couple of players who were overseas. As the season went on, this team started to gel together and were able to win games, even against the higher-seeded teams. The Wings have defeated the Aces and Liberty, who are the frontrunners to play in the Finals.
But, there is one player who has had a huge impact on this team's trajectory this season: Satou Sabally. Sabally finished the regular season averaging 18.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. If Sabally can keep these numbers up during the post-season, the Wings are bound to excel in the first round of the postseason.
#5- Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream has had a tumultuous season. This team was also not looking playoff-bound at the beginning of the season. At one point, the Dream were playing so well that they were 5th in league standings, but recently, they went on a losing streak that dropped them down to 8th place in league standings. The last time the Dream made the playoffs was in 2018, so it has been a while since they've seen postseason play.
With players like Rhyne Howard and Allisha Gray, they really do not have problems scoring outside the paint. Howard averages 17.4 points per game, and Gray averages 17.2 points per game. However, the Dream continues to struggle in the paint offensively with just eight offensive rebounds per game. They also struggle with ball handling, with almost 14 turnovers per game. If they can increase their offensive rebounds and decrease the amount of turnovers, they might be able to give some teams a tough time during the playoffs.
#6- Minnesota Lynx
After starting the season with a 0-4 record, many fans believed that the Lynx were probably not going to make the playoffs this year. At the beginning of the season, UConn alum Napheesa Collier was in the MVP conversation for many, because she seemed to be "carrying" the Lynx. Recently, it has been somewhat of a different story. Collier still averages 21.5 points per game, but players such as Kayla McBride and Diamond Miller have stepped up to help ease the load. McBride averages 14.3 points per game, and Miller averages 12.1 points per game. Diamond Miller is in her first year in the league, so putting up that many points per game is a huge accomplishment.
However, this doesn't change the fact that this team hasn't had much experience in postseason play in recent years. The Lynx have surprised quite a few teams with their play in these past few months, such as upsetting an unhealthy Washington Mystics team and defeating the New York Liberty. The ability to upset the frontrunners and post high numbers when on their best foot will aid them in the postseason.
#7- Washington Mystics
The Mystics started off as one of the "dark horses" for playoff contention. However, injuries have gotten in the way of those hopes. Losing Shakira Austin and Elena Delle Donne for several weeks impacted how the Mystics' season would go. Kristi Toliver also went down recently with a season-ending ACL injury after missing most of the season dealing with plantar fasciitis. As a whole, this team is mostly healthy. They aren't down to the point where they are missing most of their starting lineup, unlike earlier this season. The Mystics still have the capability of doing well in the playoffs. If this team can stay healthy during the playoffs, they can possibly make it as far as the semifinals.
#8- Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky have had a season full of ups and downs. From being in about 4th place in league standings to losing their head coach/GM to an assistant coaching job for the Toronto Raptors they had a bump start to the season. After just barely making the playoffs, the Sky is ready to take it on but has some work to do in the offseason. In order to get to the offseason, they must make it through the playoffs first. This team still has the ability to shake a couple of teams up in the playoffs. In order to make it through the playoffs, they will need big performances from players such as Courtney Williams, Marina Mabrey, and Kahleah Copper. Although this Sky team has changed a lot since they won back in 2021, the mentality of the team is still there to help propel them forward.
With all of these teams competing for a chance to hold that trophy up, this year's playoffs are going to be something you do not want to miss. The 2023 WNBA Playoffs begin on Wednesday, September 13th with the Connecticut Sun facing the Minnesota Lynx at 8 pm EDT on ESPN2.
First Round Schedule
Wednesday, Sep 13, 2023
Minnesota Lynx vs. Connecticut Sun, 8:00 PM EDT, ESPN2
Chicago Sky vs. Las Vegas Aces, 10:00 PM EDT, ESPN
Friday, Sep 15, 2023
Washington Mystics vs. New York Liberty, 7:30 PM EDT, ESPN2
Atlanta Dream vs. Dallas Wings, 9:30 PM EDT, ESPN2
Sunday, Sep 17, 2023
Minnesota Lynx vs. Connecticut Sun, 1:00 PM EDT, ESPN
Chicago Sky vs. Las Vegas Aces, 3:00 PM EDT, ABC
Tuesday, Sep 19, 2023
Washington Mystics vs. New York Liberty, 7:00 PM EDT, ESPN
Atlanta Dream vs. Dallas Wings, 9:00 PM EDT, ESPN
Wednesday, Sep 20, 2023
*If Necessary Game 3*
Las Vegas Aces vs. Chicago Sky, TBD, ESPN
Connecticut Sun vs. Minnesota Lynx, TBD, ESPN
Friday, Sep 22, 2023
*If Necessary Game 3*
New York Liberty vs. Washington Mystics, TBD, ESPN2
Dallas Wings vs. Atlanta Dream, TBD, ESPN2
Second-round games will begin on Sunday, September 24.