all scores

WNBA playoff scenarios: Race for the final spot in 2023

Natasha Cloud and the Washington Mystics upset the first-place Las Vegas Aces on Saturday. (Kenny Giarla/NBAE via Getty Images)

With less than a week left in the WNBA regular season, seven teams have clinched playoff spots, three have been eliminated, and two squads are competing for the eighth and final spot.

Here’s how the playoff picture looks as the regular season heads to the finish line.


Las Vegas Aces

The Aces set a WNBA record with 30 wins this season and currently have the No. 1 seed for the playoffs. The Aces are guaranteed to finish with the No. 1 or No. 2 seed, but with four of their six losses coming in August, Las Vegas has been in jeopardy of losing the top spot to New York.

In the first 40-game season in WNBA history, the Aces are beginning to show cracks in their depth. Head coach Becky Hammon pulled her starters with 3:04 remaining in a loss to Washington on Aug. 26, admitting afterward that the Aces “weren’t winning that game” because of fatigue. The team has responded in the past week, winning two in a row to remain one game ahead of New York in the standings. If the Aces win their last two games, they’ll clinch the No. 1 seed; if the Aces and the Liberty end the season in a tie, the Aces need Minnesota (19-19) to finish at .500 or above to win the tiebreaker.

New York Liberty

The Liberty also have a playoff spot locked up and are currently on a seven-game win streak in an effort to overtake Las Vegas for the No. 1 seed.

In the event of a tie, the tiebreaker goes to the team with the better record against teams that finished the year at .500 or above. As mentioned above, Minnesota is the key to this equation: The Aces are 3-0 over the Lynx this season, and would win the tiebreaker if the Lynx — with games against Chicago and Indian remaining — finish at .500 or above. Unlike the Aces, the Liberty’s depth is one of their biggest strengths.

Connecticut Sun

Though often overlooked, the Sun have been a surprising contender this season — due in large part to triple-double queen Alyssa Thomas — and have the No. 3 seed secured. With two regular season games remaining, they have no more room to move up or down at this point and will look toward the playoffs.

Dallas Wings

The Wings punched their playoff ticket with a win over Indiana on Friday. They could have locked up the No. 4 seed with a win in either of their last two games, but they’ve since suffered a loss to Indiana in overtime and a one-point loss to New York on Tuesday. Dallas, currently one game ahead of Minnesota, has two more games to secure the four seed and homecourt advantage in the first round.

Minnesota Lynx

The Lynx have enjoyed quite the turnaround after an 0-6 start to the season. They’ve pushed their way into the middle of the pack thanks to a career-best scoring season from Napheesa Collier and the development of the team’s rookies, notably No. 2 draft pick Diamond Miller and second-round pick Dorka Juhász. With two straight wins to start September, the Lynx clinched a playoff berth and are currently holding onto the No. 5 seed. The 2023 Lynx are just the second team in WNBA history to lose at least their first six games and still make the postseason.

Washington Mystics

The Mystics have struggled with consistency this season, largely due to injuries. They’ve won more than two games in a row just once, but with the return of Elena Delle Donne, they clinched a spot in the playoffs with a win over Phoenix on Tuesday. They had just eight players available in that game and continue to manage injuries, including veteran Kristi Toliver’s torn ACL, but they’ll make their sixth postseason appearance in seven seasons as the current No. 7 seed.

Atlanta Dream

After the Dream went on a seven-game winning streak in July, August wasn’t so kind to Tanisha Wright’s squad. They went 3-8 and fell down the standings as a result. Their early-season success helped secure them a playoff spot regardless, with a win over Seattle on Wednesday night pushing them over the line. Atlanta currently owns the No. 6 seed, with the tiebreaker advantage over Washington. The Dream’s postseason appearance will be their first in five years.

Diana Taurasi and Phoenix will miss the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. (Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)


Seattle Storm

In the Storm’s first season without Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd had an incredible individual campaign, leading the WNBA in scoring. But as a team, the Storm struggled mightily and were officially ruled out of playoff contention for the first time in seven consecutive seasons.

Phoenix Mercury

The Mercury were also eliminated last month, marking the first time since 2012 that the franchise won’t make a postseason appearance. Despite Diana Taurasi’s historic season and Brittney Griner’s triumphant return, this result was not wholly unexpected. The Mercury are still attempting to right the ship after firing head coach Vanessa Nygaard earlier in the season and competing without Skylar Diggins-Smith, who is on maternity leave.

Indiana Fever

Indiana held an outside shot of making the playoffs into September, before losing to Dallas on Sept. 1 and being officially eliminated. The Fever will enter the offseason with plenty of bright spots to build on, most notably Rookie of the Year frontrunner Aliyah Boston.

The 2021 WNBA champion Chicago Sky are in the hunt for one of the final playoff spots. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Still fighting

Los Angeles Sparks

After enjoying a six-game win streak in August, the Sparks have gone 1-4 in their last five games to put their playoff hopes in jeopardy. L.A. has struggled with injuries, including a non-COVID-related illness that has sidelined Lexie Brown for the majority of the season. They have a shot at sneaking into the postseason in head coach Curt Miller’s first season at the helm, but their window is closing. Chicago holds the tiebreaker for playoff positioning, with a 3-1 season series advantage over L.A.

Chicago Sky

The Sky have won four of their last six games to make a late push for the final playoff spot. With the tiebreaker over the Sparks in hand, Chicago has a legitimate chance at a fifth straight postseason appearance despite losing almost their entire starting core in the offseason and head coach James Wade midseason.

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.