After an uncertain 2019 season, the WNBA schedule for 2020 promises incredible basketball excitement. New aspects of the schedule promise to build on the crucial new CBA as 11 teams chase the defending champion Washington Mystics. So what should we watch for when NBA playoff excitement wonderfully overlaps with the lady hoopers?
More games = more fun basketball. Enough said! I am no critic of the 82 game NBA schedule, and few will criticize the expanded 36 (from 34) WNBA slate. Note that women commit winter months to the more lucrative overseas ball. However, the WNBA Players Association, to protect the integrity of USA hoops, agreed to no longer allow players to miss training camp (unless their other team is still playing).
Another intriguing move is, for a trial run for the NBA, the implementation of a Commissioner’s Cup. Conference affiliation no longer matters for the playoffs, as of 2016. However, the first five home and away conference games before the Olympics will count towards the cup standings. After the break, the top two teams will matchup in the title game, with financial incentives for the winning team. I’m uncertain about the meaning of non-playoff showcases, but perhaps with time, fans will appreciate the European concept.
The season tips off on May 15th with three league pass games. (League pass covers all non-cable games for $20, so it’s a must-obtain for basketball fans). The next day, Washington starts its title defense at home against LA on ESPN. ESPN will handle 17 games this season with potentially more on CBS Sports Network, giving the league more visibility. Also notable that day is New York and their top pick, likely point guard phenom, Sabrina Ionescu, opening in Connecticut. On Sunday, May 24th, Chicago hosts Las Vegas in a grudge match of Vegas’s controversial last-second playoff win.
Turning to June, observe that the last two WNBA champions, Seattle and Washington, meet in Washington on the 2nd. June 11th features a rematch of 2016 and 2017 finalists Minnesota and LA. The rivalry exhibited the positives of the new conference-less playoff structure and is the leagues’ most fiercely contested battle. And on June 28th in Washington, the Mystics host Connecticut in a finals rematch.
Second Half and Olympics
From July 11th until potentially August 14th for the Cup, the WNBA will be inactive for the Olympics (sadly meaning no All-Star game). Shortly before this gap, all 12 teams will hoop on July 7th and 8th, and on the first day back, August 16th. One can’t complain about 12+ hours of stupendous basketball! Near the season’s conclusion, on September 13th, the best two point guards ever fight on ABC when Seattle’s Sue Bird defends home court against Diana Taurasi’s Phoenix Mercury. The 12 squads all ball on September 20th in the finale. Minnesota and Phoenix play the last game at 7 eastern, and then the playoffs begin.
Plug-In The Phone
With almost all US sports fans owning phones, put them into action! Follow the 216 games on the WNBA app. Also, please use TicketMaster to see at least one WNBA showdown if you live near a team; trust me, you’ll appreciate the feminine might of pro hoops. The WNBA centers crouch at the centerline for the first tip; those not ready for the official’s throw will become saddened by missing the world’s best women’s sports league.