As of now, the Las Vegas Aces, New York Liberty, and Connecticut Sun have punched their tickets for the WNBA Playoffs.
Basketball analysts, fans, and critics have been predicting an Aces versus Liberty finals matchup. However, anything is possible during postseason play because of the level of intensity, matchups, and X-factors emerging.
Last season, the Aces were crowned WNBA champions but a repeat may not be automatic considering the last team to win back-to-back titles was the Los Angeles Sparks (2001, 2002).
The Liberty are seeking their first WNBA title in franchise history and their first finals appearance since 2002. Despite New York and Las Vegas being the favorite there are a few teams that may have something to say.
Here are three teams that may have an X-factor to make a difference this postseason.
WNBA Playoffs 2023: 3 X-factors who could be postseason difference-makers
Washington Mystics X-Factor: Shakira Austin
At this moment, the Washington Mystics are sitting in eighth place with a 16-18 record. Although the team is currently occupying the last playoff slot, they can make a push come postseason time.
Washington has been plagued with injuries most of the season, which has impacted their ability to gel together.
Despite the injury woes, they still have a chance with the veterans on their roster. Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud, Ariel Atkins, and Tianna Hawkins have been down this road before in the year they won the championship (2019).
Not to mention, Brittney Sykes has been having a career high year in points (15.3), rebounds (4.8), and assists (3.8), per game.
The Mystics have the length, size, and speed to match up with any team. If healthy, this roster can be a wild card matchup for any one. Their X-factor is Shakira Austin, who has bounced back from an early season injury.
Clearly EDD, Cloud, and Atkins are the heartbeat of this team but Austin has created her own niche. She creates second-chance points for her teammates by dominating the glass, she runs the floor during the break, and she constantly moves without the ball to open the floor.