WNBA standings: Resetting the race for the final playoff spots

The WNBA Playoffs begin on Sept. 13, and the race for the final playoff spots has officially heated up with several teams vying for the final spot.
Washington Mystics v Las Vegas Aces
Washington Mystics v Las Vegas Aces / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

The teams that have clinched spots in the WNBA playoffs are no surprise — the Las Vegas Aces, New York Liberty, Connecticut Suns, Dallas Wings and Minnesota Lynx. New York, Connecticut, and Las Vegas each have a frontrunner for MVP on their team, so it would have been a shocker for one of these teams to fall short in the playoffs. 

While those teams are locked in, we also have a few traditional powerhouses already eliminated. The Mercury had a season full of challenges, from the return of Brittany Griner and not being completely healthy to the firing of their head coach Vanessa Nygaard early in the season. Despite these challenges, the Mercury showed resilience and fought hard. They have a talented roster with players like Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith (who is out on maternity leave), who have proven themselves as top performers in the league. Although they fell short in the playoffs, their determination and skill make them a team to watch out for in future seasons. 

However, a team like the Seattle Storm not making the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons is truly a shocker. The Storm had some great moments but struggled immensely without Sue Bird, who retired, and super-star frontrunner MVP Breanna Stewart who signed with the Liberty in the offseason. In a must-win game, the Storm fell short, ending their season. 

The teams still fighting for a chance at the postseason are the Washington Mystics, Atlanta Dream, Chicago Sky, and Los Angeles Sparks. Of those, the Sky may be the least likely to get through.

The Mystics may have the best chance of securing a playoff spot based on their recent performance. At the beginning of the season, the Washington Mystics were projected to be better than they are now, at 17-19. However, they showed true stride with their win over the Aces. 

Having a full, healthy team will capture those original thoughts about the talent that the team has and how they can be true competitors. Despite their current record of 17-19, with a full and healthy team, they have the ability to live up to the initial projections and establish themselves as strong contenders in the playoffs. The Mystics' performance in that game against Las Vegas highlights their talent and suggests that they are capable of securing a playoff spot. 

The Atlanta Dream was on an upward trajectory with a seven-game winning streak, then they hit a bump in the road, and it has been downhill since. The break in the winning streak seemed to hit an off button in the team, and it has been hard to recover from it. The Dream has to ramp it up in these last two weeks if they really want to make it into the playoffs. Even once they clinch a spot, they have to light up the court as they once did to be competitive in the playoffs. 

Lastly, the Sparks seem to have lost their flame, as they had a three-game losing streak. The flame that once lit up the Sparks is hard to see. Although they have struggled without Lexie Brown, they were on a six-game winning streak until last week. Moving forward, the Sparks do not have an easy battle as they will face the top teams to compete for that playoff spot. It makes you wonder if they regret losing to the Connecticut Suns just as they were sitting at the eighth spot during their winning streak.

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