Hello there! It's been quite the past two weeks in the WNBA. The regular season ended, the playoffs began, awards were handed out, a coach got fired...
(Side note: that wasn't a good move, in my opinion, but I'll have more on that at a later date. In the meantime, I tweeted out my thoughts on what it means for the league in a thread above.)
We have now reached the semifinals in the WNBA Playoffs. Chicago beat Phoenix and defending champion Seattle survived against Minnesota in the single-elimination first round last week.
And in the second round, Los Angeles won big over Seattle in the first game. The second game, meanwhile, was capped off by a shot seen by many even outside of the WNBA fandom. Soon after accepting the 2019 Sixth Woman of the Year award, Dearica Hamby hit a game-winning shot from nearly half court to help her Las Vegas Aces advance over Chicago.
The second round was single-elimination, as well, leaving four teams left in the quest for the WNBA title. The Aces will travel to Washington to take on the Mystics, while the Sparks will travel to Connecticut to face the Sun. Both semifinals are best-of-five series.
Who do I think will win? Read on.
Semifinal #1: Las Vegas vs. Washington
In this corner: An Aces squad looking to make the most out of their trip in somewhat-unfamiliar territory. The franchise had some playoff experience as the San Antonio (Silver) Stars, but never in Vegas – until now. In fact, the franchise won the past two WNBA Draft Lotteries. The Aces sort of stumbled near the end of the regular season but still finished high enough in the standings to obtain that first-round bye, entering the playoffs with the No. 4 seed. While many are questioning the validity of the aforementioned game-winning shot, one thing is clear: Vegas, well, got lucky in its second-round game. And the Aces will have to do a lot more to have a shot at beating their opponent.
In the other corner: A Mystics team that is hungry for a Finals title, to say the least. Washington stayed near or at the top of the standings for most of the regular season, and the players are not about to stop their dominance now. Many of those on the 2018 Finals runner-up squad – including likely MVP Elena Delle Donne – are back in 2019 with a vengeance, and it showed, as they earned a coveted double-bye into the semifinals after becoming the first team to clinch a playoff berth in August. Despite having nine days off between games, the Mystics players and staff still put in work to get ready for their series, which shows that they’re not messing around this year.
Advantage: Washington. And it's not close. I expect the Mystics to sweep the Aces 3-0.
Semifinal #2: Los Angeles vs. Connecticut
In this corner: A Sparks squad that is getting strong at the right time. Los Angeles has enjoyed some home cooking this month, ending its regular season with a 3-0 record at Staples Center before the aforementioned victory over the Storm in the second round of the playoffs. However, the Sparks will start the semifinal series on the road, where they have struggled this year.
In the other corner: A Connecticut team looking to right some wrongs in its playoff past. The Sun had finished fourth in the regular season for the past two years only to lose in their sole postseason game. Things have improved in Uncasville already, however, as Connecticut secured the other double-bye into the semis. But the team – including a lineup that's played more games together over three seasons than any in the league – is not done yet. The Sun will have to use their core and their home court to their advantage in the first two games of the series to keep the momentum in their favor when the series moves to L.A. over the weekend.
Advantage: While both teams finished the regular season with identical home records, I see Connecticut winning this series either 3-1 or 3-2.
Here is the full schedule of the semifinals series. The 2020 WNBA Draft Lottery will take place during halftime of the Sparks-Sun game Tuesday night.
WNBA Semifinals – Best-of-Five Series (2-2-1)
Tuesday (Tonight!), September 17
- Game 1: No. 3 Los Angeles at No. 2 Connecticut, 6:30 PM Eastern, ESPN2
- Game 1: No. 4 Las Vegas at No. 1 Washington, 8:30 PM Eastern , ESPN2
Thursday, September 19
- Game 2: No. 3 Los Angeles at No. 2 Connecticut, 6:30 PM Eastern, ESPN2
- Game 2: No. 4 Las Vegas at No. 1 Washington, 8:30 PM Eastern, ESPN2
Sunday, September 22
- Game 3: No. 1 Washington at No. 4 Las Vegas, 5:00 PM Eastern, ESPN2
- Game 3: No. 2 Connecticut at No. 3 Los Angeles, 7:00 PM Eastern, ESPN2
Tuesday, September 24
- Game 4 (if necessary): No. 1 Washington at No. 4 Las Vegas, time TBD, ESPN2
- Game 4 (if necessary): No. 2 Connecticut at No. 3 Los Angeles, time TBD, ESPN2
Thursday, September 26 (if necessary)
- Game 5 (if necessary): No. 4 Las Vegas at No. 1 Washington, time TBD, ESPN2
- Game 5 (if necessary): No. 3 Los Angeles at No. 2 Connecticut, time TBD, ESPN2
Do you think either Las Vegas or Los Angeles can pull off an upset, or do you think the Mystics and the Sun will hold it down with their home court advantage? Let us know!