A Chaotic Sprint to the Finish for the W.N.B.A. Season

The Chicago Sky, the reigning champions, are assured of one of many high two spots within the upcoming W.N.B.A. playoffs. The rebuilding Indiana Fever are the one workforce out of competition. Every little thing else is up for grabs.

The ultimate week of the W.N.B.A.’s common season ought to be a showcase of the parity and chaos the league has seen all season. Six of the league’s 12 groups are battling for the ultimate three playoff spots, and the groups which have already clinched are nonetheless jockeying for seeding.

On the high of the standings, the Sky are 25-8 and maintain a two-game lead within the race for the No. 1 seed. Chicago can fall no additional than a No. 2 seed after a win Sunday over the Connecticut Solar, however it’ll nonetheless want to carry off the Las Vegas Aces, who spoiled Sue Fowl’s remaining regular-season recreation at Local weather Pledge Enviornment with a win over the Seattle Storm. Chicago and Las Vegas face off Thursday of their remaining regular-season assembly.

The Solar are solidly within the third spot however might nonetheless overtake the Aces for the No. 2 seed. An even bigger battle is brewing under them, although, as Seattle and the Washington Mystics struggle for home-court benefit in what is sort of sure to be the playoff matchup between the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds. The Storm are at a scheduling drawback, with video games on the street in opposition to Chicago and Las Vegas round a visit to Minneapolis. The Mystics, in the meantime, end with two video games in opposition to the last-place Fever and play their remaining regular-season recreation at house.

Of the groups hoping to clinch one of many remaining playoff spots, the Dallas Wings are in one of the best form. They maintain a 16-16 file with 4 video games remaining — all in opposition to groups that sit under them within the standings. Dallas might clinch a berth with a win in both of its two video games this week in opposition to the Liberty, the primary of which was scheduled for Monday evening.

Under the Wings, although, the race is broad open. With three video games left for every, the Atlanta Dream and Phoenix Mercury are tied at 14-19, although the Dream personal the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Liberty are 13-19 with 4 video games left, and the Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks are hanging on at 13-20.

Each the Dream and the Mercury have been with out key gamers down the stretch: Atlanta guard Tiffany Hayes has missed three video games with an ankle damage, whereas Phoenix was with out each Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi in its Saturday win over New York. The Liberty had lastly gotten wholesome as Betnijah Laney returned to motion two months after knee surgical procedure, however ahead Natasha Howard went down with an ankle injury.

These accidents might depart the door open for the Tenth-place Lynx: They maintain the season tiebreakers over Phoenix and the Liberty, and so they play the Mercury in a must-win recreation Wednesday. However the remainder of Minnesota’s schedule is daunting, with video games at house in opposition to Seattle and on the street in opposition to Connecticut. In its favor is the comeback of Napheesa Collier, who returned Sunday lower than three months after giving delivery. (A motivating issue for her was the prospect to play once more with Sylvia Fowles, who’s retiring on the finish of the season.)

Lastly, the Sparks could face probably the most tough path to a playoff berth, for causes on and off the courtroom. Los Angeles had been in place for the No. 6 seed after a July 21 win over the Dream. However with drama swirling because the four-time All-Star Liz Cambage left the workforce, the Sparks dropped six video games in a row to fall to eleventh place.

A win Sunday in opposition to the Mystics saved their hopes alive. However they have to play back-to-back video games this week in opposition to the third-place Solar earlier than ending up in opposition to the surging Wings. And making issues worse, the Sparks have been caught up in a journey nightmare whereas making an attempt to depart Washington.

After their flight was delayed after which canceled, some members of the Sparks spent the evening within the airport when there weren’t sufficient resort rooms for all gamers. Nneka Ogwumike, a former league M.V.P., mentioned in a video posted on Twitter, “It’s the first time in my 11 seasons that I’ve ever had to sleep in the airport.”