WNBA Playoffs Resume on Wednesday

Shane Lambert looks ahead at what’s in store in the WNBA playoffs. The Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks will make their 2016 post-season debuts later this week.

The best-of-5 WNBA semifinals will start on Wednesday with a doubleheader on ESPN2. In the early game the No. 8 seeded Phoenix Mercury will attempt to continue their success on the road as they travel to Minnesota to take on the Lynx (8pm ET). In the second game of the night the Chicago Sky will be in Los Angeles to take on the Sparks (10pm ET).

Phoenix have really turned around the problems that they had the road during the regular season. Heading into the playoffs, they were just 5-12 as visitors and yet they rattled off back-to-back wins on the road. First Phoenix took out the Indiana Fever in a result that was not that surprising. Next the Mercury eliminated the 3rd seeded New York Liberty, a result that was certainly more unexpected.

Here’s the regular season results between Minnesota and Phoenix:

May 14th @ Minnesota: Lynx 95, Mercury 76

May 25th @ Phoenix: Lynx 85, Mercury 78

June 7th @ Minnesota: Lynx 89, Mercury 81

A very tall order is up next and Phoenix, a team that got swept in the regular season by Minnesota, will have to continue to win on the road if they are to jump out to a series lead. The Minnesota Lynx are top-seeded in the WNBA playoffs, they have been resting for several days now, and they are 15-2 at home on the year. That dominating home-court record makes them different in comparison to either New York or Indiana, teams that kind of limped into the post-season.

Entire series schedule:

Game 1Wednesday, Sept. 28thPhoenix @ Minnesota8 PM ETESPN2
Game 2Friday, Sept. 30thPhoenix @ Minnesota8 PM ETESPNews
Game 3Sunday, Oct. 2ndMinnesota @ Phoenix5 PM ETESPN
Game 4*Tuesday, Oct. 4thMinnesota @ PhoenixTBDESPN2
Game 5*Thursday, Oct. 6thPhoenix @ MinnesotaTBDESPN2

Another team that was kind of limping down the stretch was the Los Angeles Sparks. They went just 5-5 in their last ten, but never really looked in danger of losing the No. 2 seed. They have a dominant record at home as well, going 14-3 on season. That will put the Chicago Sky to the test, a team that never really enjoyed much road success on the season with a visiting record of 7-10.

Here’s the regular season results between Los Angeles and Chicago:

May 24th @ Chicago: Sparks 93, Sky 80

June 14th @ Los Angeles: Sparks 98, Sky 85

July 13th @ Chicago: Sparks 77, Sky 67

The Sparks perfect record against Chicago looms large heading into this series. Furthermore, every Sparks’ victory was by double digits. Overall, Los Angeles went +36 against the Chicago Sky and that should give LA a lot of confidence.

However, those that followed the entire WNBA season saw a different kind of Sparks’ team after the Olympics. Yet all three of the meetings between Chicago and Los Angeles took place prior to Rio. Perhaps that creates a strong possibility for a closer series than what the Sparks’ records suggest.

Entire series schedule:

Game 1Wednesday, Sept. 28Chicago @ Los Angeles10 PM ETESPN2
Game 2Friday, Sept. 30Chicago @ Los Angeles10 PM ETESPNews
Game 3Sunday, Oct. 2Los Angeles @ Chicago3 PM ETESPN
Game 4*Tuesday, Oct. 4Los Angeles @ ChicagoTBDESPN2
Game 5*Thursday, Oct. 6Chicago @ Los AngelesTBDESPN2

The WNBA Finals will begin on October 9th. If the seeds held up it would be Los Angeles @ Minnesota. However, the Sparks are the bigger question mark of the two in the semifinals, making Chicago a possible dark horse.

Shane Lambert