The Washington Mystics snapped a team-record 12-game losing streak on Tuesday, taking home their first win of the season over the Atlanta Dream. 

Brittney Sykes returned from injury and made an immediate impact with game-high 18 points, four assists, and three rebounds. As a team, Washington shot over 50% from behind the arc.

"The feel is it's been coming," coach Eric Thibault said after the game. "I said the other night that we're turning into a good basketball team and we just haven't had the wins to show for it yet. We've been playing better basketball now for a while.

"We're obviously shooting well, but I think the quality of the shots we're getting is really good."

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Still, the team’s slow start isn't exactly in the rearview mirror. With star forward Elena Delle Donne sitting this season out, the Mystics were always predicted to face an uphill climb in what has been described as a rebuilding year. 

But with a franchise-worst 0-12 record to kick off the 2024 season, the Mystics are likely on track for a lottery pick. However, Washington can point to positive performances from star draft pick Aaliyah Edwards and league newcomer Julie Vanloo.

Elsewhere in the WNBA, the Las Vegas Aces continued their skid with a surprising 100-86 upset courtesy of the Minnesota Lynx. The reigning WNBA champions were shorthanded this week, falling to 5-5 on the season despite MVP-level play from A'ja Wilson, who scored 28 points in Tuesday's loss.

Minnesota shot over 55% as a team, with Alanna Smith leading the team with 18 points. The game marked the Aces' first three-game losing streak since 2019.

"This is a long, long, long season," Wilson said in her postgame remarks. "I'm not going to press the panic button. I'm still going to bet on us. I know exactly what's in that locker room."

Aces stalwart Chelsea Gray has been out with injury since last year's WNBA Finals run. And while she told reporters on Tuesday that she's set to return before the Olympic break, the team can’t get her back soon enough as they continue to struggle with depth. 

"I don't want them thinking too much; then you get paralysis [by] analysis," coach Becky Hammon said. "We're just not being solid in our base. Just be solid defensively. We're not a very good team right now, that's just reality. But we know we can get better. I still have a lot of belief in this ball club."

Arike Ogunbowale powered Dallas to a win on Wednesday, with 14 of her 25 points coming in the fourth quarter. 

Despite trailing 75-73 with 3:16 to go, the Wings rattled off the next 14 points to beat the Chicago Sky 87-79. As a whole, the Wings shot 100% on eight shots in the final five minutes of the game. 

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"I don't know. I mean, I was dead, honestly," Ogunbowale said after Dallas's comeback win. "Maddy [Siegrist] came to me and said, 'The Lord renews your strength.' And the last five minutes, we went crazy."

Postgame, head coach Latricia Trammell applauded her team’s ability to handle the Sky’s pressure.

"We know basketball is a game of surges," Trammell said. "You just gotta weather the storm because we were gonna go on our runs as well."

While Chicago was unable to find an answer for Dallas’ fourth-quarter surge, Sky rookie Angel Reese had a solid professional debut. Her first WNBA bucket came in the third quarter, and she finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, joining the remaining four Sky starters in double-digit scoring.  

Of Reese's 12 points, seven came in the fourth quarter.

"She's [Angel Reese] a great player on and off the court," Ogunbowale said of the LSU alum's performance. "This is her first game. Obviously, she has a long career, this is a good start."

While rapper Latto was in the building for the Sky game, Kim Kardashian dropped by the Los Angeles Sparks game with daughter North to see the Sparks took on Atlanta. Rookies Cameron Brink and Rickea Jackson both made their WNBA debuts, while Layshia Clarendon had their first career triple-double.

Brink finished with 11 points, four assists, and two blocks, but got into foul trouble with five fouls in 20 minutes. 

Atlanta would have the last word, thanks to Rhyne Howard leaving behind some broken ankles in her 25-point performance.

For the first time in history, three different WNBA teams have completely sold out of season ticket plans well before the league's May 14th kick-off.

Call it the Caitlin Clark effect, attribute it to this year’s tenacious rookie class, or look to the skyrocketing visibility of veteran players across the board. But no matter the cause, facts are facts: Tickets to the 2024 WNBA season are selling like never before. 

On Monday, the Dallas Wings became the third team to sell out of season ticket memberships in the league’s 27-year history. The announcement from Arlington came shortly after the Atlanta Dream issued their own season ticket sell-out statement, also on Monday, and almost seven weeks after the back-to-back WNBA Champion Las Vegas Aces made headlines by becoming the first-ever WNBA team to sell out their season ticket allotment.   

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According to the Wings, season ticket memberships will fill nearly 40% of the 6,251 seats inside their home arena, College Park Center. The club also said that their overall ticket revenue has ballooned to the tune of 220% this year, spanning not just season tickets but also a 1,200% increase in single ticket sales. There’s currently a waitlist to become a Dallas season ticket holder, a status that comes with extra incentives like playoff presale access and discounts on additional single-game tickets. 

In Atlanta, season tickets aren't the only thing flying off the shelves. The Dream also announced that they broke their own record for single-game ticket sales during a recent limited presale campaign. Sunday was reportedly their most lucrative day, with five different games totally selling out Gateway Center Arena. Individual tickets for all upcoming matchups will hit the market this Thursday at 8 a.m., while a waitlist for season ticket memberships will open up next Tuesday at 10 a.m.

"Excitement around women's sports, particularly basketball, is at an all-time high and nowhere is that felt more than here in Atlanta," Dream president and COO Morgan Shaw Parker said in the team’s statement. "We’ve continued a record-setting growth trajectory over the past three years under new ownership — both on and off the court — and 2024 is shaping up to be our best season yet."

As of Tuesday, season ticket sales revenue for Caitlin Clark’s hotly anticipated Indiana Fever debut haven’t yet been announced by the club. But if these numbers are any indication — not to mention the explosive demand for Fever away games felt by teams around the country — it won’t be long before we see some scale-tipping figures coming out of Indianapolis.

No one understands what Caitlin Clark and the 2024 WNBA draft class has ahead of them better than Atlanta Dream guard Haley Jones.

Jones is a product of her own vaunted draft class, selected sixth overall in 2023 upon finishing a college career at Stanford that produced a 2021 national championship. Since joining the WNBA, Jones had steady output as a rookie, playing in all 40 of the team's games in her first season.

The transition wasn't always easy. Jones had to balance finishing her Stanford degree with the early months of her first professional season, competing against seasoned veterans while closing a chapter of her life as a student.

"In college, it's a job-ish. But now it's really your life, right? And not only are you competing for yourself, but the women that you're going against, this is their lives. They have kids to provide for, families, so it's a different mindset when you come in," she told Just Women's Sports at the 2024 Final Four in Cleveland. "They're so smart, they're so efficient. And so you'd be doing the same things, but they get there quicker."

Only one year removed from her own college career, watching the upcoming 2024 draft class maneuver the same schedule has been somewhat surreal for Jones. She says she remains close with many of the players at Stanford, including incoming WNBA rookie Cameron Brink, and with the NCAA tournament now behind them she knows just how quickly their lives are going to change.

"The whirlwind that it is when your season ends, you get like three days if you're going to declare for the draft or not," she says. "Then you figure it out, boom, the draft is next Monday. So no time, it's quick. And then they're gonna [have the] draft on the 15th, training camp starts the 26th or 27th, so you have 11 days to move your life to wherever you're going, figure out the new city, get your car there, do all these different little things that come along with it."

Once players arrive in training camp, their spots in the league are anything but guaranteed. With expansion still on future horizons, this year's draft class will be competing with established veterans (including, now, Jones) for limited roster spots. It's not unheard of for even WNBA lottery picks to struggle in establishing a foothold in one of the most competitive leagues in the world.

"A lot of us get to the point of being in the W, you get there because you're hypercritical," Jones says. "That's why you've been able to be so good, your work ethic is insane. So you're watching everything that you do, you're correcting yourself, you're watching film, you're doing all these things."

"I think my biggest advice is really just like the present and understand that you're there for a reason. I think that there's impostor syndrome sometimes when you get to the league. But you have to understand that there's something about you that makes you special, to be where you are."

The rookie wall is real, Jones says, and her own hypercritical nature got the best of her at times during her first year in the WNBA. But she also feels that once a player can find a sense of rhythm, there's a simplicity to the life of a professional athlete that allows them to further expand their horizons.

Misconceptions about NIL opportunities continuing beyond women's college basketball careers have abounded in recent months, with current WNBA players having to correct the record. Jones is a product of the NIL era, and has only seen her professional opportunities expand since leaving Stanford.

"Most of the deals I had in NIL I'm still with now," she says. "Because those contracts [extended] or they just renewed now that you're in the W."

"Then you take what you were making [in college] and then you add in your W salary, so — thank you. Now I have my 401k system. I have health care, all these different things — so you kind of honestly add on when you get to the W, on top of better competition, all these different things."

Removing schoolwork from her daily schedule has also given Jones more time to pursue other projects, like her podcast "Sometimes I Hoop", in partnership with The Players' Tribune. As the WNBA continues to build its own ability to market and promote its players, Jones has relished the opportunity to not only meet players she admires through the podcast, but add to an increasingly vibrant media landscape following women's sports.

"There's a lot of men's basketball podcasts out there, a lot of player-led ones," she says. "There's not a lot of women's basketball. There's some women's basketball focused pods, but not a lot of player-led ones."

"I think it's great for me to be able to give back to women’s basketball in my own way."

Jones's experience with the podcast has also given her a unique perspective on what possibly comes next for the WNBA, as the league looks to capitalize on a wave of popular young talent while still serving the players already on team rosters.

"Everybody in the league, they were All-Americans at one point in time. They were national champions, like we all have that resume," she says. "I think it's just the W expanding on their storytelling. I think doing a better job with that will do a lot, also like buying into what the players are doing."

She notes the impressive personal brands that players like Clark, Brink, and Angel Reese have built on their own.

"The W has a fan base, but then each individual player has a fan base," she continues. "So by locking into those and making them not only Angel Reese fans, Caitlin Clark fans, Cam Brink fans, making them W fans as well will be big."

As Jones grows into her second year as a professional, her perspective of her own college career has also shifted with time. Winning a national championship is difficult, and Stanford's ability to come out on top in 2021 is an achievement she's appreciated even more in the years since winning the title.

"You don't really realize it until later on," she says. "As I look at it now, I realize how big of an accomplishment that that was."

"Talking to my parents, they're like hey, how many people can actually say they won one?" she continues. "How many people become college athletes? DI athletes? Win a natty? One team a year."

The ambitions for Jones in 2024 are even bigger, with the Dream looking to improve upon their fifth-place finish last season. But she also believes the key to growing the game of basketball can be found in connecting with the community, following in the footsteps of college titans like Dawn Staley at South Carolina.

"People buying into these programs because you see them in the community is huge. I feel like for the W to be continuing to do that, continue with community initiatives, all these different things that we're doing. I think that you'll get a lot bigger fan bases."

Angel McCoughtry is returning to basketball, joining Athletes Unlimited for its third season.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 WNBA Draft and a two-time Olympian with USA Basketball, McCoughtry has played in just three WNBA games since 2021 due to injuries. But she will take the court again with Athletes Unlimited, with the season set to run from Feb. 29 through March 23 in Dallas.

“As the newest member of the AU family, I am beyond excited to start this journey. Basketball has always been a passion that drives me,” McCoughtry said in a release. “My focus is clear: I just want to hoop again, to be on the court where I feel most alive. I can’t wait to show the world what I got.”

The 37-year-old is feeling good, she told ESPN, and has been progressing well in both her rehabilitation and workouts.

A former star at Louisville, McCoughtry spent her first 10 WNBA seasons with the Atlanta Dream. While there, she won the 2009 Rookie of the Year award, made the All-Star game five times and was a member of three WNBA Finals teams. Twice she led the league in scoring and steals.

Since becoming a free agent in 2020, McCoughtry has bounced around, helping the Las Vegas Aces to the WNBA Finals in 2020 but missing the 2021 season with a right knee injury. She played two games for the Minnesota Lynx in 2022 before being waived.

“It’s been hell,” she told ESPN. “You go over 10 years never getting hurt. But then you get hurt, you have a surgery, and it changes things. It’s been like a domino effect.”

In November, she visited the USA Basketball camp. While there, she spent time with former Olympic teammates Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner.

McCoughtry says that she still has “something left,” and she hopes that Athletes Unlimited might help her get back to the WNBA.

“I look forward to showing that I still have ability,” she told ESPN. “I feel like playing AU can help me get back in the WNBA. I know the narrative is, ‘She hasn’t played, she’s older.’ I just want to prove basketball still exists in my world.”

Other WNBA players, including Kelsey Mitchell, Lexie Brown, Allisha Gray and Sydney Colson, have signed back on for another season with Athletes Unlimited.

The Las Vegas Aces clinched a second consecutive title, winning the battle of the superteams against the New York Liberty in the 2023 WNBA Finals.

The defending WNBA champions, the Aces locked down the No. 1 seed in the playoffs for the second consecutive season. They dominated the Chicago Sky in the first round, then swept the Dallas Wings in the semifinals. The Liberty defeated the Washington Mystics and then the Connecticut Sun to reach the championship series.

The Aces became the first team to win back-to-back titles since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001 and 2002. The Liberty failed to disrupt their plans, despite entering the playoffs with a 3-2 advantage in the season series against Las Vegas. Both teams entered the playoffs as clear favorites to reach the Finals.

Just Women’s Sports has the full breakdown of the bracket, schedule and results from the Aces’ title run.

2023 WNBA playoffs: Full results

First round

  • (1) Las Vegas Aces eliminated (8) Chicago Sky, 2-0
    • Game 1: Aces 87, Sky 59
    • Game 2: Aces 92, Sky 70
  • (2) New York Liberty eliminated (7) Washington Mystics, 2-0
    • Game 1: Liberty 90, Mystics 75
    • Game 2: Liberty 90, Mystics 85 (OT)
  • (3) Connecticut Sun eliminated (6) Minnesota Lynx, 2-1
    • Game 1: Sun 90, Lynx 60
    • Game 2: Sun 75, Lynx 82
    • Game 3: Sun 90, Lynx 75
  • (4) Dallas Wings eliminated (5) Atlanta Dream, 2-0
    • Game 1: Wings 94, Dream 82
    • Game 2: Wings 101, Dream 74

Semifinals

  • (1) Las Vegas Aces eliminated (4) Dallas Wings, 3-0
    • Game 1: Aces 97, Wings 83
    • Game 2: Aces 91, Wings 84
    • Game 3: Aces 64, Wings 61
  • (2) New York Liberty eliminated (3) Connecticut Sun, 3-1
    • Game 1: Sun 78, Liberty 63
    • Game 2: Liberty 84, Sun 77
    • Game 3: Liberty 92, Sun 81
    • Game 4: Liberty 87, Sun 84

Finals

  • (1) Las Vegas Aces lead (2) New York Liberty, 2-1
    • Game 1: Aces 99, Liberty 82
    • Game 2: Aces 104, Liberty 76
    • Game 3: Liberty 87, Aces 73
    • Game 4: Aces 70, Liberty 69

Rhyne Howard is taking her talents to the sidelines, joining the Florida Gators’ coaching staff during the WNBA offseason.

Howard, who just finished her second season with the Atlanta Dream, will serve as an assistant coach as well as the team’s director of player personnel. While the former No. 1 overall pick was a standout player for Kentucky, she is joining the Wildcats’ SEC rivals for the 2023-24 season.

Florida is her mother’s alma mater, and Rhvonja “RJ” Avery still holds top-10 rankings in a number of categories from her career with the Gators from 1987 to 1991.

“When you really think about it, everything is full circle,” Howard said. “My mom was a Gator herself and I have been on this campus multiple times. But to actually be able to wear the orange and blue, I know it’s making her proud, I know it’s making everyone who thought I was originally going to be a Florida Gator proud.

“I always knew at some point that I would have the connection back with this school and just to be here and to be loved and to feel how much of a family it is already just confirmed all that.”

Howard is coming off of a solid sophomore season in the league, averaging 17.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game and helping the Dream to the WNBA playoffs. She improved upon her first season, in which she was named Rookie of the Year and a WNBA All-Star.

Gators head coach Kelly Finley Rae told the Associated Press that bringing Howard into the fold will help to elevate the program.

“It has always been important to me that we surround our student-athletes with people who can help equip them with the skills necessary to succeed as professionals on and off the court,” Finley said. “Rhyne is humble, competitive, thoughtful and driven.

“She is living many of our student-athlete’s dreams. Her knowledge of the game combined with her ability to teach and connect with them on and off the court will elevate our program.”

The Las Vegas Aces and New York Liberty have dominated the headlines and conversations since last year’s playoffs. On the court, the Aces and Liberty have had similar success, earning the top two seeds in the 2023 postseason.

Six other squads, though, are ready to challenge the superteams, starting with four intriguing first-round matchups. Just Women’s Sports has insights and predictions for each three-game series.

(1) Las Vegas Aces vs. (8) Chicago Sky

Defending champion Las Vegas set a WNBA regular-season record with 34 wins in 40 games. And after ending the season on a four-game winning streak, the Aces are in prime position to start the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Sky made the postseason against all odds in a season that saw the departure of their head coach and general manager, James Wade, who left for an assistant coaching position in the NBA. Chicago needed a late-season push to edge out the Los Angeles Sparks for the final playoff spot, and they got it by winning four of their last five contests.

These two teams are in completely different places, and while the Sky should be proud of their resilience in even making the playoffs, this series should be dominated by the Aces.

The teams played three times in the regular season, with the Aces taking all three matchups, 93-80, 107-95 and 94-87. In each matchup, Las Vegas had a different leading scorer, with the team’s four stars – A’ja Wilson, Jackie Young, Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum – all hitting double-digits each time. Chicago will have to find a way to limit one or two of those scorers to have a chance against the potent Las Vegas offense.

Prediction: Las Vegas in 2

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Chicago's Alanna Smith and Las Vegas' Jackie Young go after a loose ball. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(2) New York Liberty vs. (7) Washington Mystics

This series shows the importance of the fight for the No. 1 seed. Neither the Aces nor the Liberty wanted to play the Mystics.

Washington may be a No. 7 seed, but the team ranks much higher in terms of talent. Injuries throughout the season prevented the Mystics from ever getting on a roll, but when healthy, they boast Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud, Shakira Austin, Ariel Atkins and Brittney Sykes in the starting lineup.

Washington is certainly feeling good about itself after beating New York, 90-88, in the final game of the regular season. Yet while the Mystics can challenge the Liberty, New York is the better team and should win the series – though it may take three games to do so.

The Liberty also come into the playoffs on a high, despite the loss to Washington. They started the regular season with a ton of talent and ended it as a cohesive team that looks hard to stop in a playoff series.

Sabrina Ionescu has been particularly tough for the Mystics to stop, as she’s been New York’s leading scorer with 20-plus points in three of their four regular-season meetings. Washington needs to lean on a stellar defensive performance across the court, but particularly from Sykes and Cloud to defend New York’s guards. After that, it will be up to Austin and Delle Donne to slow down Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones. So a lot needs to go right for Washington. Ultimately, even healthy, it will be challenging for Washington to contend with New York’s talent across all five positions.

Prediction: New York in 3

(3) Connecticut Sun vs. (6) Minnesota Lynx

The Sun and the Lynx played four times this season, with Connecticut holding a 3-1 advantage, but the series featured several close games. Two of the Sun’s wins came by 10 points and 5 points.

Led by MVP candidate Alyssa Thomas and her 15.5 points, 9.9 rebounds and 7.9 assists per contest, Connecticut has been consistent all season. Slowing down Thomas is the first challenge the Lynx will have to tackle. She runs the court for the Sun, and no squad has had an answer for that. Meanwhile, DeWanna Bonner is having the best season of her career, averaging 17.4 points per game. Her length also provides a challenge for Minnesota’s defense.

Meanwhile, the Lynx are peaking at the right time. They started the season 0-6 but have turned their season around. Napheesa Collier has been a huge part of that success, averaging 21.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. She was huge in the most recent matchup, finishing with 30 points.

The Lynx have come a long way, particularly with the development of rookies Diamond Miller and Dorka Juhász, and they have the ability to make this series interesting. But ultimately, the one-two punch of Thomas and Bonner is too big of a challenge to overcome, and the Sun should take this series.

Prediction: Sun in 3

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Connecticut's Alyssa Thomas goes up for a shot against Minnesota's Napheesa Collier. (David Berding/Getty Images)

(4) Dallas Wings vs. (5) Atlanta Dream

Dallas and Atlanta come into the playoffs as two similar squads — not in the way they play, but in their ability to beat anyone on a given night. Both these teams are bursting with talent, and when things go right, they go really, really right.

Yet while the Wings continue to mesh, the Dream struggled down the stretch. Still, if Atlanta puts everything together, it can compete with Dallas, though the Dream are 0-3 in the regular-season series.

To have a chance against the Wings in the playoffs, Rhyne Howard, Cheyenne Parker and Allisha Gray will all need to have big games, and Atlanta will likely need a lift from someone unexpected as well.

Dallas will lean on its big three – Satou Sabally, Arike Ogunbowale and Natasha Howard – to do most of the scoring. But the team’s inside presence is where the Wings can separate themselves. Both Teaira McCowan (6-7) and Kalani Brown (6-7) can do damage on both ends, and alongside the length of Awak Kuier (6-6), they make it difficult for opponents to attack the rim.

Prediction: Dallas in 2

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

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.

Clinched

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.

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

Out

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.

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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.