WNBA Playoff Preview: Las Vegas Clinches No. 1 Seed but Will They Stop Chicago From Repeating?

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Chelsea Gray #12, Jackie Young #0, Kelsey Plum #10, A’ja Wilson #22 and Kiah Stokes #41 of the Las Vegas Aces walk back on the court after a timeout in their game against the Chicago Sky at Michelob ULTRA Arena on August 11, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Chelsea Gray #12, Jackie Young #0, Kelsey Plum #10, A’ja Wilson #22 and Kiah Stokes #41 of the Las Vegas Aces walk back on the court after a timeout in their game against the Chicago Sky at Michelob ULTRA Arena on August 11, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

With every team on the schedule, the final day of the WNBA regular season was full of drama.

According to ESPN, the Las Vegas Aces defeated the Seattle Storm 109-100, while the New York Liberty and Phoenix Mercury secured the seventh and eighth seeds respectively, setting up some very interesting first-round matchups.

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Kicking off Wednesday, Aug. 17, the new playoff format featuring a best-of-3 series in the first round has some competitive contests worthy of a closer look and a few predictions.

Las Vegas Aces (1) vs Phoenix Mercury (8)

The Las Vegas Aces, who have looked almost unbeatable this year, will start their postseason campaign against the Phoenix Mercury. Dealing with the detainment of Brittney Griner has made this an emotionally tough season for the Mercury, but they have rallied together as a team and found a small measure of success. Unfortunately, with superstar Diana Taurasi out with injury and Skylar Diggins-Smith’s status with the team uncertain, this is likely the end of Phoenix’s run.

My prediction: Las Vegas

Chicago Sky (2) vs New York Liberty (7)

Chicago almost grabbed the top spot from Las Vegas and has been dominant all season. Of course, the Liberty have had a ton of momentum since the All-Star game and could present a big challenge for the champs. As good as Chicago is, New York is a team full of shooters, which means no lead is ever safe. Candace Parker and the Sky need to be careful because this has all the hallmarks of a trap. This is by far the most interesting first-round contest. Ultimately, the best team will probably win in a close three-game series.

My prediction: Chicago

Connecticut Sun (3) vs Dallas Wings (6)

Connecticut is looking to finally convert its unmatched offense into a championship. As great of a combo as Dallas’ Arike Ogunbowale and Marina Mabrey are, they’re not enough to carry the Wings past the much better Sun. This is the easiest series to call, which means I’ll totally be wrong and there’s an upset coming.

My prediction: Connecticut

Seattle Storm (4) vs Washington Mystics (5)

Perennial championship contenders Seattle are riding high on the emotion of trying to send Sue Bird off with a title, and as usual, they’ve looked extremely hard to beat. With Jewell Loyd and MVP favorite Breanna Stewart clicking on all cylinders, the Storm are going to be tough to eliminate. Mystics superstar Elena Delle Donne and Rookie of the Year candidate Shakira Austin aren’t quite enough to get past Seattle.

My prediction: Seattle

Here’s the thing: no team in the league raises their postseason play the way the Storm does. There’s something about this team’s chemistry that feels different this year, and I think they’re going to win a very entertaining five-game WNBA Finals against the Chicago Sky.

Championship prediction: Seattle

The WNBA playoffs start Wednesday, Aug. 17 on the ESPN Networks.