After two rounds of single-elimination games, we are down to the last four teams in the WNBA playoffs. There are a couple of teams remaining that I didn’t think would make it this far.
In our initial postseason rankings, I didn’t have the Sky or the Mercery as the final four. In particular, I thought the Storm would have an opportunity to defend their championship in the Finals, but the Mercury edged them out in an 85-80 overtime win without injured Seattle star Breanna Stewart.
The Sky handled business as well, knocking off the Lynx 89-76. So now that we have our top four, and have seen what two teams are capable of this postseason, let’s re-rank these teams.
4. Chicago Sky
They were ranked the lowest of the four teams in the initial postseason ranking, and though they had a convincing win against the Lynx, I favor the top overall seed Sun in their next matchup. Initially, my concern was about Candace Parker’s health, given that she has had to sit out twice this season due to ankle injuries, but now, I’m curious to know if the Sky can remain consistent against a fiery Sun team.
The Sky has talent, from Candace Parker to Allie Quigley, Diamond DeShields, Kahleah Copper, and more. But can they string multiple wins together against a dominant Connecticut squad? The Sun were very consistent during the regular season, and the Sky, not so much. So in this first best-of-five round in the playoffs, the Sky will not only have to be firing on all cylinders; they’ll have to do it three times.
3. Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury have looked like a different team since the Olympic break, and it’s been evident in their recent postseason games. I’m convinced that they have a chance of going the distance. The Mercury always seem to find a way to win even when the odds aren’t in their favor.
At the beginning of the postseason, I said it would come down to consistency and grit for the Mercury, and they’ve shown that they’re capable of doing both. There is no denying that they are a solid team, with multiple weapons from Brittany Griner, Skylar Diggins-Smith, and Diana Taurasi to Sophie Cunningham, a sharpshooter, who propelled them to a win in the first round against the Liberty. Their inspired win in the final seconds against Seattle now gives them a chance to compete against the Aces for a shot in the Finals. The Mercury need Diana Taurasi to be healthy and on the top of his game, but it’s the interior dominance of Griner that gives them a chance to compete against the league’s best teams.
2. Las Vegas Aces
Originally, the Aces were the team I pegged to win it all, and given that they haven’t played a postseason game yet, you may be wondering why they’ve dropped to three. Well, despite them having fresh legs and being a powerhouse with elite players like A’ja Wilson, Kelsey Plum, Chelsea Gray, and Liz Cambage, I feel like the Sun are simply on a roll coming off of the regular season, and I think it will carry over. Also, I feel like the Aces may struggle to put the Mercury away, resulting in a longer series and heavier legs going into the WNBA Finals.
The Aces finished with the league’s best offense by a significant margin. They ended the regular season No. 2 in defense. Cambage and Wilson can matchup with any big in the world, and theoretically will have to face both Griner and Jones (if the Sun beat the Sky) to win a championship. Plun, Gray, and Riquna Williams will need to hit shots from the outside consistently for the Aces to live out their championship dreams.
Truly, this is all speculation, but given what I’ve seen the Mercury do this postseason and how dominant the Sun were during the regular season, I foresee the Aces claiming the runner-up spot once again.
1. Connecticut Sun
If the Sun take care of business the way they did all regular season, this championship is theirs to lose. Of course, the Aces or Mercury will put up a fight, but when you look at the total body of work the Sun have put forward this season, they deserve to be the championship favorite entering the semis. But the only thing that I believe can stop them is if their opponents can limit the likely MVP Jonquel Jones and her counterpart DeWanna Bonner’s inside-outside scoring. If one struggles, the other will go off, but if teams limit both of them, well, that levels the playing field.
The Sun’s roster has turned over significantly since their run to the WNBA Finals in 2019, with Jones remaining as the centerpiece. I get the feeling that this year will be different this time around. I think they’ll walk away with the championship trophy when it’s all said and done.
The Sun finished the regular with the most dominant defense in the league. They were also No. 3 in offensive rating, and No. 1 in net rating. This is a tough, veteran team that plays through its superstar big and is hungry to win a title after falling just short against the Mystics in 2019.
With that said, we don’t truly know how all of this will play out. If you would have told me at the beginning of the playoffs that the Storm would be out already, I would have thought you were lying. But that’s the best part about the playoffs. You never really know.