WNBA Playoffs Preview: Four Tussle on Tuesday

WNBA Playoffs
Courtney Vandersloot is a very kind woman. But when it comes to assists? She's bad, bad, bad to opponents Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

OH NO. The NBA playoffs are nearing the end! What are we to do? No worries, because the WNBA playoffs are just about to start! Eight teams remain in the Wubble, and seeds five through eight must fight in win-or-go-home Tuesday night. The Chicago Sky battle the Connecticut Sun at 7 pm Tuesday, and then the Phoneix Mercury tussle with the defending champion Washington (DC) Mystics at 9. True, the Seattle Storm and Las Vegas Aces, who tied for the WNBA’s best record, are favorites. However, every second counts, and the four underdogs haven’t come this far just to quit.

Chicago Sky

Experts heightened expectations for Chicago, who brought every important player back from a talented 2019 near-semifinal run. However, Diamond DeShields left the Wubble permanently for personal reasons, and Azurá Stevens is out with an injury. However, Courtney Vandersloot shockingly set the WNBA record with 18 assists in a game (with the last two going to her sharpshooter wife, Allie Quigley). 12-10 isn’t enough with higher expectations, so the Sky must win Tuesday to avoid offseason discontent.

Connecticut Sun

Most WNBA athletes will never win a championship, so falling in the winner-take-all game Finals game five devastated the Sun. The franchise has a core four: new signing DeWanna Bonner and trustworthy mainstays Alyssa Thomas, Brionna Jones, and Jasmine Thomas. However, it was impossible to obtain a low seed after Connecticut lost its first five contests. The Sun has more postseason experience than the Sky but lacks the star power of Vandersloot. 10-12 won’t scare any team, but Connecticut has enough determined teamwork to at least steal one win. (And my talented look-alike brings coaching acumen too.)

Phoenix Mercury

With GOAT Diana Taurasi finally healthy, Phoenix planned on dominating with a big three of Dee, Brittney Griner, and new acquisition Skylar Diggins-Smith, who ditched the dysfunctional Dallas Wings. However, Griner left the Wubble for personal reasons. Thankfully, the Mercury are 6-1 in single-elimination rounds one and two since 2016, and Dee needs an outlet for Olympic-postponement frustration. She’s been load-managed with just 28.1 (out of 40) minutes a game, and her unpeered competitiveness and potty-mouth consistently intimidate opponents. Phoenix keeps falling since their 2014 title and has had enough of wait-till-next-years.

(WNBA athletes are perfectly normal, by the way. They get pumped about the NFL just like the rest of us.)

Washington Mystics

No (defending MVP) Elena Delle Donne, not playing this season? No chance! Well, that’s what 99.9% of fans outside the Mystics organization thought, anyways. After a 4-12 start with only six games left, it seemed the mob had intelligence after all. Thankfully for Washington, only four teams out of 12 miss the playoffs. Unpeered coach Thibault insisted his team not play for the lottery, and they won their last four to edge past Dallas. Myisha Hines-Allen, Ariel Atkins, and Leilani Mitchell started all 22 games, so Washington has secured a new identity. NBS is making the BOLD prediction that Washington will not win the title without Elena Delle Donne. Still, this is a surprisingly wily team, and Phoenix shouldn’t assume an effortless triumph.

(By the way, note to baseball planners: it is way more fun when not every team makes the playoffs.)

Sport Eclipsed?

Soon, the WNBA will end its strange season, and attention will quickly turn back to the NFL. Hey, nothing wrong with that. Still, it would be wrong not to give the W the recognition it deserves for the herculean effort to pull off the 2020 season. Dozens of dedicated superwomen gave up months of their lives to fight for their sport and proudly represent the underappreciated sports gender. Those with ESPN2 have every reason to forget about the stinky Clippers Tuesday and support four teams determined to soldier to the pinnacle of all sports: the WNBA finals.

Jeffrey Newholm
About Jeffrey Newholm 204 Articles
Hey there! I’m Jeff Newholm and depending on your point of view I’m blessed or cursed that my two favorite sports are outside the limelight. Being a UW-Whitewater grad (winter 2013) my first love was d3 college football, but over the last few years I have picked up a huge interest in woman’s basketball (Uconn being my favorite team as their 90 game winning streak helped show me how good a team can get in the woman’s game). I like all the sports everyone else likes (NFL, NBA, MLB, NCAA basketball and football) but those two sports are where I really have a passion.
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