A thrilling and historic 2023 WNBA regular season has come to a close, and after an exciting final day all the seeding battles have been decided. Most notably,, while the Chicago Sky secured the eighth and final playoff spot.?
In the middle of the pack, the Atlanta Dream, Minnesota Lynx and Washington Mystics all finished with identical 19-21 records. Multi-team tiebreakers are settled by best combined record against the other teams. The Dream were 5-2 in those games, the Lynx were 3-3 and the Mystics were 2-5. As a result, the Dream got the No. 5 seed, the Lynx No. 6 and the Mystics No. 7.?
The lottery will feature the Indiana Fever, Seattle Storm, Phoenix Mercury and Los Angeles Sparks, who have all been eliminated. By virtue of having the worst combined record in the 2022 and 2023 seasons,.?
In the new playoff format which debuted last season, there are no more byes. The eight teams are sorted into a standard bracket with the No. 1 seed playing No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, and so on. Teams will play best-of-three series in the first round and best-of-five series in the semifinals and Finals. Notably, though, the first round is a 2-1 format, which means the higher seed as Games 1 and 2 at home, while the lower seed gets the deciding Game 3 at home, if necessary. The semis and Finals are both 2-2-1, with the higher seed hosting Games 1, 2 and 5, if necessary.?
- Las Vegas Aces (33-6) -- Playoffs
- New York Liberty (32-8) -- Playoffs
- Connecticut Sun (27-13) -- Playoffs
- Dallas Wings (22-18) -- Playoffs
- Atlanta Dream?(19-21)?-- Playoffs
- Minnesota Lynx?(19-21) -- Playoffs
- Washington Mystics?(19-21)?-- Playoffs
- Chicago Sky?(18-22)?-- Playoffs
- Los Angeles Sparks (17-23)?-- Lottery
- Indiana Fever (13-27) -- Lottery
- Seattle Storm (11-29) -- Lottery?
- Phoenix Mercury (9-31) -- Lottery
Note: Two-team ties are decided first by head-to-head record and then, if necessary, better record against .500+ teams. Ties between more than two teams are determined by combined head-to-head record against the other teams.?
First-round playoff matchups
- No. 1 Las Vegas Aces vs. No. 8 Chicago Sky
- No. 2 New York Liberty vs. No. 7 Washington Mystics
- No. 3 Connecticut Sun vs. No. 6 Minnesota Lynx
- No. 4 Dallas Wings vs. No. 5 Atlanta Dream
With all the action complete, here's a look at the final playoff picture.
Aces and Liberty clear at the top
1. Las Vegas Aces (34-6)
- First-round matchup: vs. No. 8 Chicago Sky
While a late-August slump loosened the Aces' grip on the No. 1 overall seed, they closed the season strong with a four-game winning streak to secure the top spot and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. They finished 19-1 at home in the regular season, and will hope that form continues as they try to become the first team to repeat as champions since the Sparks in 2001 and 2002.?
2. New York Liberty (33-7)
- Current first-round matchup:?vs. No. 7 Washington Mystics
The Liberty surged towards the finish line, going 13-2 after the calendar turned to August, but that wasn't enough to catch the Aces for the top spot. Instead they'll have to settle for not only the No. 2 seed, but a first-round matchup with the Washington Mystics, who are much better than their seed would indicate. Still, they are one of the favorites to win it all.?
Sun locked into third
3. Connecticut Sun (27-13)
- First-round matchup:?vs. No. 6 Minnesota Lynx
No one expected the Sun to be this good this season without Jonquel Jones, and especially not after Brionna Jones tore her Achilles tendon in June. But Alyssa Thomas put the team on her back and carried them to the No. 3 seed, as they established themselves as the "best of the rest" behind the Aces and Liberty. They are not a main title contender, but will be a tough out for any team that has to face them.?
Wings secure fourth
4. Dallas Wings (22-18)
- First-round matchup:?vs. No. 5 Minnesota Lynx
The Wings are going back to the playoffs for the third consecutive season, and have their first 20-win campaign since 2008, when they still played in Detroit. They haven't been super consistent over the past month, but when they're at their best they can beat anyone, and that gives them a chance in short series.?
A complicated seeding battle
5. Atlanta Dream (19-21)
- First-round matchup:?vs. No. 4 Dallas Wings
- Tiebreakers:?5-2 record against the Lynx and Mystics
This has been a roller coaster season for the Dream. When they're good, they're really good, but when they're bad, they're really bad. They've had winning streaks of seven and three games, but also four different three-game losing streaks. Through it all, they have officially clinched their first playoff berth since 2018.?
6. Minnesota Lynx (19-21)
- First-round matchup:?vs. No. 3 Connecticut Sun
- Tiebreakers:?3-3 record against the Dream and Mystics
The Lynx are just the second team in WNBA history to make the playoffs after starting the season 0-6, joining the 2015 Sparks, and have earned the No. 6 seed. They will have their hands full in the first round, but just making it to the postseason after such a terrible start was an impressive accomplishment for this rebuilding team.?
7. Washington Mystics (19-21)
- First-round matchup:?vs. No. 2 New York Liberty
- Tiebreakers: 2-5 record against Dream and Lynx
The Mystics were extremely unlucky with injuries this season, which is why they finished under .500 and in seventh place. However, they proved in the first few weeks that they're one of the league's better teams when at full health, which they're nearing as the playoffs begin. They'll be a very difficult first-round matchup for the Liberty.?
Sky grab final spot
8. Chicago Sky (18-22)
- First-round matchup:?vs. No. 1 Las Vegas Aces
Perhaps no team in the league was as desperate to make the playoffs as the Sky, who do not have a first-round pick in the 2024 draft as a result of former head coach and GM James Wade's short-sighted offseason. It was looking grim on that front a few weeks ago, but they won five of their last six games to ensure that they got in by a game over the Sparks.?
9. Los Angeles Sparks (17-23)
Despite a late-season surge, in which they ripped off a six-game winning streak, the Sparks were simply unable to overcome all of the injuries they faced this season. They'll now miss out on the playoffs for a third consecutive season, which is a franchise-long drought. The good news is they actually have their own first-round pick this year, and will get to make a lottery selection.?
10. Indiana Fever (13-27)
The Fever were knocked out of the playoffs on Sept. 1 with their defeat to the Wings. But while they'll be in the lottery for a seventh consecutive season, this isn't the same old Fever. They've won more games this summer than they did in 2021 and 2022 combined, and they have a talented young core in Aliyah Boston, NaLyssa Smith and Kelsey Mitchell.?
11. Seattle Storm (11-29)
The Storm were officially eliminated from the playoffs after their loss to the Sky on Sept. 3, ending a seven-year postseason streak. This was unfortunately to be expected given the departures of Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird in the offseason, and a trip to the lottery will help the Storm reset for the future.?
12. Phoenix Mercury (9-31)
. For the first time since 2012, they were eliminated from the playoffs with their defeat against the Wings on Sept 3. This group needs a fresh infusion of talent, though, so heading to the lottery is for the best.?