The Chicago Sky will host the Phoenix Mercury, while the Minnesota Lynx will travel to take on the Seattle Storm in the first round of the WNBA playoffs on Wednesday.
Both first-round games are single elimination affairs, with the losers going home and the winners advancing to play another set of one-and-done games on Sunday.
Chicago Heavily Favored Over Phoenix
Wednesday’s first game features the fifth-seeded Sky taking on the Mercury, who grabbed the final spot in the WNBA playoffs. Chicago just missed getting a bye to the second round, as they needed a win over the top-seeded Washington Mystics on Sunday and a loss by the Las Vegas Aces to move up to the fourth seed. With neither result going their way, however, the Sky will have to take a longer postseason path.
Still, Chicago received a pretty favorable matchup to open their run. The Sky went 3-0 against the Mercury this year, beating Phoenix by an average of 14 points per game. Naturally, past performance isn’t a guarantee of prior results, so Chicago coach James Wade isn’t taking anything for granted.
“We know they’re a good team, we know they’re dangerous,” Wade told reporters after Sunday’s loss. “We’ve been fortunate enough to beat them three times, but in the playoffs, everything is 0-0.”
Bookmakers see the Sky as a clear favorite heading into Wednesday’s game, with Circa Sports listing Chicago as a 7-point favorite. The winner will go on to play the Aces in the second round.
Long Road for Defending WNBA Champions
Meanwhile, the Seattle Storm will kick off their title defense with an elimination game against the Minnesota Lynx, with the winner advancing to take on the No. 3 Los Angeles Sparks. Seattle has three WNBA titles in franchise history, but has had to fight to keep its head above water this year without star players Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart, each of whom have missed the entire season with injuries.
Similarly, the Lynx have had to rebuild this season following the loss of the retired Lindsay Whalen and Maya Moore, who took time away from basketball in 2019, not to mention a slew of other injuries. But Minnesota has come on strong late, winning five of their last six games to close out the season.
Seattle took the regular season series against Minnesota 3-1, winning the final three matchups between the teams. But the last game between them came in mid-August, and the Lynx have looked like a different team as of late. That has been enough for oddsmakers to show Minnesota respect, as Seattle comes in as just a 3-point favorite.
WNBA Championship Odds (Via FanDuel)
- Washington Mystics (-110)
- Connecticut Sun (+300)
- Las Vegas Aces (+500)
- Los Angeles Sparks (+650)
- Phoenix Mercury (+4900)
- Minnesota Lynx (+5500)
- Chicago Sky (+6000)
- Seattle Storm (+8000)
Given the unforgiving format of the WNBA playoffs, it should be no surprise that none of the four teams playing Wednesday are among the favorites to win the WNBA title this year. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, that honor goes to the Washington Mystics (-110), who finished the year with a league-best 26-8 record behind the play of probable MVP Elena Delle Donne. Washington will get a bye straight to the semifinals – which are contested as a best-of-five series – as will the second-seeded Connecticut Sun (+300).