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WNBA Playoff Preview

League Moves to Best-of-3 Format for Opening Round

Aces Claim Top Seed

The race for the top seed as well as the battle for the final couple of spots in the playoffs took an entire season to figure out.

Now that the regular season is over, the Las Vegas Aces are the No. 1 seed while the New York Liberty and Phoenix Mercury emerged from a group of five teams in contention for the final playoff berth until the final weekend of the season.

The format is a little different for the 2022 playoffs. Gone are the single-elimination matchups. The first-round series will all be best-of-three games with the higher seed getting to play at home in game 1 and 2.

Whose your favorite teams to come out of the first round and move on to the semi-finals 👀 https://t.co/TXrXYrpjYB

— WNBA (@WNBA) August 15, 2022

The semifinals and championship series will utilize best-of-five game formats, with the higher seed playing at home in the first two games and, if necessary, in the decisive fifth game as well.

According to the WNBA betting line, A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces and Seattle’s Breanna Stewart are tied for first at +160 in the odds to be named the WNBA’s Most Valuable Player. Kelsey Plum, Wilson’s teammate, is next at +450. Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones has moved to +1200 followed by New York’s Sabrina Ionescu at +1400.

The Aces (+150) have the best odds to win the WNBA championship, according to the sportsbook. Chicago (+200), Connecticut (+450) and Seattle (+450) aren’t too far back.

The Washington Mystics/Seattle Storm series has potential for some exciting finishes. However, the other first-round series aren’t projected to be too compelling. The opening line for Game 1 in the Las Vegas-Phoenix, Chicago-New York and Connecticut-Dallas series all feature the team with home-court advantage being favored by at least seven points.

Las Vegas Aces

Las Vegas Aces

Record: 26-10

Up next: vs Phoenix, Wednesday, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Las Vegas won its last four games to finish tied with Chicago atop the WNBA standings and earn the top seed in the upcoming playoffs.

If you love exciting offensive basketball, this is the team for you. The Aces topped 100 points on seven occasions and gave up more than 100 points in four games.

Guards Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young have thrived under first-year head coach Becky Hammon. Chelsea Gray is coming off a 33-point effort and A’ja Wilson is one of the front-runners for the MVP, so this is going to be a tough team to deal with during the postseason.

Las Vegas is 7-3 against the spread in its last 10 games.

Chicago Sky

Chicago Sky

Record: 26-10

Up next: vs New York, Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

The defending champions just barely missed out on earning the No. 1 seed. That didn’t hold them back a season ago when Chicago won its first WNBA title.

Emma Meesseman has been added to the championship nucleus and there isn’t another team in the league that has more scoring depth than the Sky.

Can Chicago be the first team to win back-to-back WNBA titles since the Los Angeles Sparks last accomplished the feat two decades ago? Chicago is 3-7-1 against the WNBA betting lines in the last 11 games.

Connecticut Sun

Connecticut Sun

Record: 25-11

Up next: vs Dallas, Thursday, 8 p.m. ET (ESPNU)

Is this the year when the Sun finally take that next step and win the franchise’s first WNBA title?

Connecticut is 1-6 against the two teams that finished ahead of them in the standings. Before dealing with either Chicago or Las Vegas, the Sun will be facing a Dallas team playing without leading scorer Arike Ogunbowale.

Connecticut overcame the loss of starting point guard Jasmine Thomas early in the season to challenge for the top record in the WNBA.

Reigning MVP Jonquel Jones is one of five Sun players averaging more than 10 points per game.

Something to consider for those who bet online: Connecticut is 4-1-1 against the spread in its last six home games.

Seattle Storm

Seattle Storm

Record: 22-14

Up next: vs Washington, Thursday, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Seattle gets home-court advantage against a Washington team that finished the regular season with the same record.

The Storm winning the tiebreaker for the first round of the playoffs could be huge considering that Seattle finished 13-5 at home and 9-9 on the road.

Breanna Stewart won the WNBA scoring title, and with Tina Charles playing alongside of her to go with Jewell Loyd in the backcourt, can the Storm send out retiring point guard Sue Bird with one more championship?

Seeing Loyd go off for 38 points in the regular-season finale is a good sign as her offense has come and gone at times this season.

The total has gone over in each of the last five Seattle games.

Washington Mystics

Washington Mystics

Record: 22-14

Up next: at Seattle, Thursday, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

It was quite the regular season for the Mystics.

Elena Delle Donne sat out 12 games so she could be ready to go when the postseason rolls around. Alysha Clark and Elizabeth Williams also missed time so we are about to see what it looks like when everybody is back for the Mystics.

While the two players picked ahead of her in the 2022 WNBA Draft won’t be taking part in the playoffs, Shakira Austin is a key part of Washington’s hopes of advancing out of the first round.

Washington is 1-3-1 against the spread in the last five games against Seattle.

Dallas Wings

Dallas Wings

Record: 18-18

Up next: at Connecticut, Thursday, 8 p.m. ET (ESPNU)

Without the services of Ogunbowale, the offense will run through Marina Mabrey, Allisha Gray and Teaira McCowan.

Mabrey had 27 points and McCowan added 24 as the Wings wrapped up the regular season by putting up 116 points on Los Angeles.

Satou Sabally is considered questionable for the series opener and that would be a big plus if she can return to the court.

Each of the last five Dallas games finished over the total.

New York Liberty

New York Liberty

Record: 16-20

Up next: at Chicago, Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

The Liberty won their last three games to earn a spot in the playoffs. Betnijah Laney returned to the lineup at the perfect time as she averaged 12.3 points over those three games. Laney has allowed Sabrina Ionescu to become a pass-first point guard late in the season. Her offense will need to come around for New York to get by Chicago in the first round. Additionally, to check out more specific information about the NBA props available for the Warriors vs Kings matchup.

In a season when New York struggled to have its full roster, the Liberty picked the best time to get healthy.

New York is 2-4-1 in its last seven games on the road.

Phoenix Mercury

Record: 15-21

Up next: at Las Vegas, Wednesday, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Phoenix had to head down the stretch of the regular season without Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi, and played all season long without Brittney Griner. Even with Tina Charles leaving the team during the season and missing so many other stars, the Mercury snuck into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed. None of those players will be appearing in the postseason.

Phoenix is 0-4-1 against the spread in its last five road games.

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