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WNBA playoff picture: Sky clinch final postseason berth

The Atlanta Dream became the seventh team to secure a spot in the 2023 WNBA playoffs with a win over the Seattle Storm on Sept. 6. (Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Chicago Sky became the final team to clinch a spot in the 2023 WNBA playoffs on Sept. 8.

With a 92-87 win against the Minnesota Lynx, the Sky join the Lynx, Las Vegas Aces, New York Liberty, Connecticut Sun, Dallas Wings, Washington Mystics and Atlanta Dream in the postseason.

The Aces (32-6) are in the midst of a historic run. On Aug. 1, six weeks before the start of the postseason, they punched their ticket. And they have surpassed the 2014 Phoenix Mercury (29-5) for the most wins in WNBA history.

But Las Vegas has faced a setback in the loss of Candace Parker to a broken foot, an absence felt in the Aces’ 82-63 loss to the Liberty in the Commissioner’s Cup final on Aug. 15. And the Sun are solidifying their spot just behind the superteams as the season reaches the home stretch.

The 2023 WNBA playoffs will begin on Sept. 13, with eight teams qualifying for the postseason and the first-round best-of-three series. Just Women’s Sports is keeping track of which teams have clinched playoff spots — and which teams have been eliminated from contention.

Which teams have clinched WNBA playoff spots?

1. Las Vegas Aces

For the second consecutive year, the Aces are looking to clinch the No. 1 seed in the WNBA playoffs. They booked their ticket to the postseason with a 93-72 win over Atlanta on Aug. 1, led by a 24-point performance by Jackie Young and a 20-point, 11-rebound performance from 2022 MVP A’ja Wilson.

2. New York Liberty

The Liberty secured a playoff spot for the third year in a row following losses by the Minnesota Lynx and Atlanta Dream on Aug. 10. In its 27-year history, New York has reached the postseason 18 times.

3. Connecticut Sun

With a 79-73 win against the Chicago Sky on Aug. 20, the Sun clinched their seventh consecutive trip to the postseason, a franchise record.

4. Dallas Wings

With the help of a 40-point night from Satou Sabally, the Wings clinched their spot in the postseason with a 110-100 win over Indiana on Sept. 1. With the loss, the Fever were eliminated from playoff contention, joining the Storm and the Mercury.

5. Minnesota Lynx

The Lynx clinched their spot in the WNBA playoffs with an 86-73 win over the Mercury on Sept. 3. The accomplishment represents a huge turnaround for a team that started the season 0-6 and missed the playoffs last season.

“When you walked in the gym, you wouldn’t know the team was 0-6,” head coach Cheryl Reeve said. “It was a group that felt like we weren’t that far off. And they believed in themselves, and in each other.

“I just told the group, they deserve this. It’s just a step. We wanted to get back to the playoffs, certainly, after missing last year. But this is a team that’s got a belief in themselves.”

6. Washington Mystics

The Mystics secured their berth with a win over the Mercury on Sept. 5, just two days after the Lynx and with two games to og in the regular season. Washington has struggled with injury all season, but they’ve been heating up as the postseason nears.

“A little bit of relief,” head coach Eric Thibault said about securing a playoff spot. “Now we can just focus on being as good as we can be. We’ve got a couple more games that we want to win, that we want to play better. But, you know, bought ourselves a ticket here. We don’t take these opportunities for granted.”

Of course, now seeding comes into play, with the Mystics having the chance to overtake Minnesota.

“We [kept] saying, ‘Oh, we win, we clinch. Oh, we win, we clinch,’” Mystics guard Brittney Sykes said. “I literally looked at everybody and I was like, ‘Let’s just f—ing win.’ Let’s just win, and then everything else on the back end we can figure out. … Now we can talk about seeding.

“But we still need to win those two damn games because we have a chance to finish out even at the end of the year.”

7. Atlanta Dream

With a win against the Storm on Sept. 6, the Dream secured their first postseason appearance since 2018. Just one player remains from that 2018 squad: forward Monique Billings, who finished with a double-double (14 points, 15 rebounds) in the playoff-clinching win against Seattle.

8. Chicago Sky

With two games remaining in the regular season, the Sky and Sparks had matching 16-22 records, but the Sky hold the tiebreaker. So with Chicago’s win Friday and the Sparks’ loss Thursday, the Sky clinched the final postseason berth with one game to spare.

Which teams have been eliminated from playoff contention?

  • Indiana Fever
  • Los Angeles Sparks
  • Phoenix Mercury
  • Seattle Storm

Dearica Hamby Tapped to Replace Cameron Brink on 3×3 Olympic Team

Dearica Hamby playing for Team USA in 2023
Dearica Hamby is no stranger to Team USA's 3×3 lineup. (Lance King/Getty Images)

Dearica Hamby has been named to USA Basketball's official 3×3 Olympic roster, replacing an injured Cameron Brink.

The Los Angeles Sparks forward has extensive experience with the 3×3 team, including taking home both a gold medal and MVP honors at the 2023 FIBA AmeriCup

Brink originally made the roster in early June, but suffered a season-ending ACL injury during Los Angeles’s June 18th loss to Connecticut. 

"It is an honor to announce Dearica Hamby's addition to the USA 3×3 women's national team and we look forward to getting to work as a squad very soon," USA Basketball 3×3 national team director Jay Demings said in a statement. "USA Basketball continues to keep Cameron Brink in our thoughts as she focuses on her recovery."

Hamby will join 2023 FIBA 3×3 World Cup champions Hailey Van Lith (TCU), CIerra Burdick, and Rhyne Howard (Atlanta Dream) in Paris.

San Diego Wave Parts Ways With Head Coach Casey Stoney

ex-wave fc head coach casey stoney in 2023
Casey Stoney joined Wave FC in 2022 from the WSL's Manchester United. (Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images)

San Diego Wave FC announced on Monday that the organization has parted ways with head coach Casey Stoney. 

The announcement comes amid a seven-game winless streak for the Wave. Stoney joined San Diego from WSL side Manchester United a few months before their inaugural season, winning the 2022 NWSL Coach of the Year Award that same year. She went on to lead the expansion team to two trophies in three years. 

Just this past January, the club agreed to a multi-year contract extension that kept Stoney with the club through 2027, with a mutual option for 2028. 

Despite their prior success, San Diego currently sits ninth in the NWSL standings, one point out of playoff contention. Their last win came on May 8th, having most recently played to a scoreless draw against Houston over the weekend to cap off a three-game road trip. 

"We are immensely grateful to Casey for her commitment to our club and the positive impact she has had both on and off the pitch,” Wave president and former USWNT manager Jill Ellis said in an official team statement. "Over the past seasons, Casey has guided us to significant milestones, and her contributions have been instrumental in laying a strong foundation on which to build.

"The decision to part ways was very hard and not made in haste, but given the ambition of this club, and where we are in our season, we felt a change was necessary at this time."

The staffing change comes a little less than two weeks after the Wave brought on former Kansas City Current general manager Camille Ashton. Ashton resigned from her position with Kansas City in May of this year.

On Tuesday, Ellis commented that Stoney is "self aware" and called her a "complete professional."

"I don’t think you have to have a conversation when it comes to know where they are, she knew,” she said. “I think Casey knew results matter. Casey’s ambitious. And was she happy with where we were? Of course not.

"I think a coach also understands that sometimes this is the nature of the beast of coaching. It’s tough and hard at times."

Kansas City, Orlando Raise the NWSL Bar With Weekend Wins

NWSL Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda in action during a NWSL match against Seattle Reign
Banda registered a brace on Sunday, bringing her NWSL total to 10 goals in just 10 games. (Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Pride star Barbra Banda continued on her historic NWSL trajectory this weekend, scoring twice in Orlando’s 6-0 win over Utah on Friday. 

She’s the first NWSL player to register 10 goals in their first 10 league appearances. It was also her fourth brace this season, and marked her first goals in two games after her first multi-game scoring drought.

"For me when I have an opportunity and a chance, I have to take it wisely," Banda said in her postgame remarks. "When I get a chance, I have to put the ball in the back of the net. If any game I didn’t score, I just have to go to my drawing board and work hard so that in the next game so I can find a goal."

Meanwhile, Kansas City also kept up their winning ways, beating Portland 4-1 behind a brace from midfielder Lo'eau Labonta on Sunday.

Later that day, the Washington Spirit, who sit just a point behind KC in third place, topped fourth-place Gotham FC in a decisive 2-0 victory.

And after drawing with Seattle, eighth-place Louisville has 16 points on the season — representing a growing gap between the league’s top and bottom teams. Bringing up the bottom of the ladder, both Seattle and Utah have yet to surpass 10 points this year.

Sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson Punches Ticket at US Olympic Track & Field Trials

Sha'Carri Richardson poses with her gold medal after winning the women's 100 meter final at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Track & Field Trials
Sha'Carri Richardson punched her ticket to Paris on Saturday by winning the 100-meter dash at the US Track & Field Trails. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Sha’Carri Richardson has punched her ticket to the Paris Olympics after finishing first in 100-meter final at the US Olympic Track & Field Trials over the weekend. 

Her time — 10.71 — sets a record as the fastest time in the world this year. After finishing, she dropped to one knee and bent her head to savor the moment.

"Definitely still confidence, still my exciting normal self, but more so overwhelmed with just emotions of joy," Richardson said of her post-race celebration. "I know that the hard work I've put into, not just physically on the track but as well as mentally and emotionally to grow into the mature young lady that I am today and that I'm going to grow into was a full-fledged surreal moment for me to actually embrace and be able to show to the world and on the track."

It was a statement-making turn in a comeback story that saw Richardson disqualified from the Tokyo Olympics due to testing positive for THC after that year's Olympic Trials.

"Everything I've been through is everything I have been through to be in this moment right now," Richardson said. "There's nothing I've been through that hasn't designed me to sit right here in front of you to answer this question."

Now, Richardson is expected to bring home some hardware from Paris, having grown into one of the greatest sprinters in the world. She won the 100-meter and 4x100-meter relay events at the World Championships last summer. And before this year's Olympic Trials conclude, she’ll look to also qualify for the 200-meter event. 

"In the past three years, I've grown a better understanding of myself, a deeper respect and appreciation for my gift that I have in the sport, as well as my responsibility to the people that believe in and support me," Richardson said. "I feel like all of those components have helped me grow and will continue to help me grow into the young lady that I have been divined and by God been blessed to be."

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