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These Four WNBA Games Could Decide the Playoff Race


In a 22-game sprint of a season, the WNBA playoff race is heating up. And if the last few game days have shown us anything, almost all of the 12 teams in Bradenton, Florida, still have a shot at being a top eight seed.

Seattle, which was comfortably sitting atop the standings, dropped two games in a row, including one to current eight-seed Indiana. The current 12th-seed, New York, is still just three games out of playoff contention.

Once in the playoffs, teams five through eight have to survive a single-elimination first round. But even before then, expect a tight race for the right to even play in the postseason. Every game counts, but some count even more. As the regular season nears a conclusion, here are four games in the next week that should have a major impact on the playoff standings.



Phoenix is currently 3-5 in the West and 6-2 against the East, which makes a lot of sense when the top four teams in the WNBA are all in the West. Besides the loss to Indiana in the second game of the season, and a loss to Dallas to start a three-game skid, the Mercury have for the most part won the games they were supposed to and lost the ones they weren’t. While Phoenix punched above its weight in wins against Las Vegas and Chicago, it also lost to that same Chicago team and will need to face that Las Vegas team again.

The Mercury cannot afford another loss to Indiana and need to show everyone, especially themselves, that they can win these kinds of games. It won’t be easy, as Phoenix is in the midst of transitioning to a guard-first lineup without Brittney Griner, who left the bubble for personal reasons. They’ll also be without Bria Hartley, who was having a career season before tearing her ACL.

Indiana, meanwhile, is a borderline playoff team at the moment despite a .313 winning percentage. A win over Seattle went a long way towards building confidence, and the Fever had a lot to say after that game. Nevermind that their only other win against a current playoff team came against Phoenix. Indiana is getting 18.5 points per game from Kelsey Mitchell, and while third pick Lauren Cox has yet to find her rhythm, Julie Allemand is legitimately in the Rookie of the Year conversation. Originally drafted in the third round in 2016, Allemand chose instead to continue playing with her French-league squad club team, but was signed in the offseason and has thrived in a starting role.


In the first meeting in the second game of the 2020 season, this game was decided by 30 points in favor of the second-ranked Aces. To be honest, unless a lot changes, this game won’t have as much impact on the playoff race (though the Aces would love to lock up one of the top two spots and earn a bye through to the semis) — it could, however, have a massive impact on the season awards race.

For the second time this season, A’ja Wilson and Chennedy Carter will take the court opposite of each other. Wilson has put together a convincing case for her first MVP award in her third season in the league. In the first game against Atlanta, Willson scored 21 points and collected 11 rebounds in just 26 minutes. Carter, meanwhile, was averaging 19.4 points per game before injuring her left ankle on August 10. At the time, she was considered a top candidate for Rookie of the Year, and in just her second game back from injury on Sunday, she showed everyone why, putting up 26 points on the Los Angeles Sparks. In order to make up for lost time after sitting out for two weeks, Carter will need to put up some monster performances to close the season, especially in games against potential MVP candidates. Her 11-point output in the first meeting was her lowest of the season.


With five starters in double digit scoring and the offense humming, Chicago is poised for a deep playoff run, but will want to sneak into the top four to avoid an extra elimination game. Before the hiccup against New York, Chicago was riding high on a four game win streak, including a quality victory over Las Vegas. The difficulty now will be closing out the season strong, and after losing to Seattle Saturday, they don’t have any more games they can spare.

Los Angeles had won nine straight before losing to Minnesota on Monday, and franchise cornerstone Candace Parker is still leading the way. Chicago won the first matchup, and it was not particularly close, but the Sparks have looked like a different team with Sydney Wiese and Brittney Sykes starting. They’re bona-fide championship contenders, especially when healthy. Anytime two of the best offenses in the league meet, there are guaranteed fireworks. And when playoff seeding is on the line, you should definitely expect a show.



Surprising many people, Minnesota appears to be a high-end playoff team as the end of the regular season nears. After two straight seasons at 18-16, the Lynx are well above .500 this time and a position group of concern heading into the season — guard — now seems to be a strength. Behind Rookie of the Year candidate Crystal Dangerfield, Minnesota has been rotating its guards and finding what works. Now, getting Odyssey Sims back to join Shenise Johnson, Lexie Brown, and Rachel Banham, head coach Cherly Reeve has a lot of decisions to make.

After a 13-3 start, the only surprise as far as Seattle is concerned is a recent two-game skid. Both losses came with Sue Bird out due to injury, which shows her continued importance to the success of this team. The Storm have already avenged their loss to Indiana, and will have an opportunity to face the Aces next time they tip off. But this game against the Lynx, who have the only defense that rivals Seattle’s own, will tell a lot about where these two teams are at. Seattle is still the team to beat, but if Sylvia Fowles can make a healthy return, Minnesota is not far behind.

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

Watch more of Kelley on the Street:

Dash winger Maria Sanchez confirms trade request a day shy of NWSL deadline

María Sanchez of Houston Dash during a NWSL game
In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the club worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Maria Sanchez issued a statement on Thursday, confirming recent reports that she has requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

In it, she revealed that the club has been aware of the request "since late March."

"This has all taken a toll and isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I want to confirm that I’ve requested an immediate trade," she wrote. "My expectations and reasons have been clear. I trust that my current club’s management will honor my decision in a timely manner and proceed with accepting a trade."

"I’m eager to refocus and dive back into what I love most: playing football," she concluded.

Reports of Sanchez's trade request first surfaced on ESPN last week, and were later confirmed by multiple sources. 

In December of last year, Sanchez signed a three-year contract with the Dash valued at $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. It was the largest contract in NWSL history at the time — a figure that would be eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

Sanchez spent the offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning that Houston could match any other team's offer to retain her rights. Should the Dash trade Sanchez, her current contract terms would remain intact, limiting potential buyers to teams able to afford to take on an inking of that size.

The Dash has yet to address the trade, instead reiterating to ESPN that Sanchez is "under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close tonight, April 19th, at 12 a.m. ET. The window will stay closed through the next 11 regular season games, reopening on August 1st, 2024.

Seattle Storm debut state-of-the-art $64 million practice facility

Jewell Loyd #24 of the Seattle Storm during warms up during practice on July 11, 2020 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida
Jewell Loyd, seen here practicing at Florida's IMG Academy, and her team are in for a major upgrade this season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The four-time league champion Seattle Storm unveiled their new practice facility on Thursday, with Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel dubbing Interbay's Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance the team’s "new home."

"It's just such a special space," Brummel told Fox 13 Seattle. "I think when the players get here, it's gonna be overwhelming."

The sprawling 50,000-square-foot, $64 million property is just the second designated practice facility to be designed and built expressly for a WNBA team, with the Storm further noting that 85% of all design and engineering team members involved in the project's construction were women and people of color. The finished product holds two professional indoor courts, two 3x3 outdoor courts, a state-of-the-art locker room, and players' lounge, plus designated areas for strength and conditioning, kitchen, dining, and nutrition, and recovery. 

"This facility reflects our commitment to providing our athletes an exceptional environment that supports their growth, health, and performance," said Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder in an official team release. "It’s built for women, by women, embodying our dedication to leading the way in professional women’s sports."

For their part, the team can't wait to make the faciilty their own.

"It's amazing," Storm guard Jewell Loyd told Fox 13. "Not having to drive everywhere around, knowing you have access anytime of the day to get into the gym, to workout." 

Head coach Noelle Quinn said she predicts the team is "never going to leave this building."

"Which is a good thing for me," she continued. "You talk about having an edge in performance. We want our athletes to not only perform on the court, but get whatever they need."

All of the Storm's staff and operations will now live under one roof, and the team also has plans to launch a youth basketball program operating out of the building.

Mystics relocate game to accommodate Caitlin Clark fans

Maya Caldwell, Erica Wheeler, and Lexie Hull of the Indiana Fever celebrate Caitlin Clark
Get ready — Caitlin Clark is coming to town. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Caitlin Clark effect is quickly making its mark on the big leagues, as WNBA host teams around the country rush to upgrade their Fever games to larger arenas in order to accommodate surging ticket sales.

With Clark mere weeks away from her Indiana Fever debut, both the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have officially relocated their scheduled home games with head coach Christie Sides' squad. On Thursday, the Mystics became the latest to adjust their plans, moving their June 7th matchup from Entertainment & Sports Arena in Southwest DC to the more centrally located — and much larger — Capital One Arena "due to unprecedented demand."

The Mystics home court's capacity taps out at 4,200, while Capital One Arena — home to the Wizards, Capitals, and Georgetown Hoya's Men's Basketball — can fit nearly five times that crowd at some 20,000 spectators.

"The move to Capital One Arena will allow for additional fans in the stands as well as premium hospitality options, including Suites and the all-new all-inclusive courtside Hennessy Lofts," the team announced via Thursday's press release.

The Aces were one of the first teams to switch venues, aiming to take on the Indiana Fever in front of as many as 20,000 fans inside T-Mobile Arena on July 2nd. That’s a sizable a boost from their home venue, which holds just 12,000.

For those still planning to face the Fever in their home arenas, ticket prices have skyrocketed. Previously scheduled construction has already forced the LA Sparks to relocate their first five games — including their May 24th clash with the Fever — to Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid. The temporary venue is quite the downsize, holding just 4,000 in comparison to Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a petition urging relocation, the Chicago Sky say they're unable to move their June 23rd Fever meeting from Wintrust Arena's 10,000-seat facility to the 23,500-seat United Center due to a concert. Tickets for that game start around $325 as of Friday.

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