NEW YORK (AP) The WNBA playoffs are set – finally.
Minnesota secured the top spot in the postseason while Los Angeles will be the No. 2 seed. Those two teams, who met for the WNBA Finals last season, have byes again until the semifinals. The Lynx had to beat Washington on the final day of the regular season to secure the top spot as the Sparks were a game behind them and held the tiebreaker. Minnesota finished with the league’s best record for the fifth time in seven years.
”That was crucial getting the top seed,” Lynx center Sylvia Fowles told The Associated Press in a phone interview Sunday. ”We understood we made it hard for ourselves, but we came in and got those last three games.”
New York and Connecticut had already clinched byes to the second round before Sunday’s play. The Liberty earned the No. 3 seed by beating Dallas on Sunday and matched a franchise record with a 10th straight win. Both New York and Connecticut will host the winners of Wednesday’s first-round games on Sunday, Sept. 10.
”You control what you can control,” Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. ”We’re just trying to peak at the right time heading into the playoffs.”
The Sun, who have been the surprise team this season, lost two of three heading into the postseason.
”To our players’ credit, there was a real belief in the locker room that we could overachieve,” Connecticut coach Curt Miller said. ”We had some special chemistry that we could be better than what many predicted us finishing. They never wavered after the start and the close losses that accumulated at the beginning of the year. I can’t be more pleased. It’s disappointing that we didn’t come up with an Eastern Conference championship, but hats off to New York with 10 straight wins at the finish to catch us.”
Seattle clinched a postseason berth on Friday, finalizing the eight teams in the playoffs. The Storm and seventh-seed Dallas were the only teams who knew their playoff position going into Sunday. Neither knew who it would face until the late afternoon.
The Storm will visit the Mercury in the first round Wednesday while the Wings play at Washington in the other playoff game that night.
The WNBA changed its format last season taking the top eight teams to the postseason instead of going with four from each conference. The league also changed the format so that the first two rounds are one game each. The semifinals and championship round are best of five.
The semifinals will begin Sept. 12 in Minnesota and Los Angeles with the WNBA Finals starting Sept. 24.
”It’s going to be good to have some rest,” Fowles said. ”We had two of our starters that have been out. Lindsay Whalen’s still trying to get her way back. That will be big to get her back and (having the time off) will help with that.”
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