The Seattle Storm and the Chicago Sky each won single-elimination games in front of their home fans to advance to the second round of the WNBA playoffs on Wednesday night.
Seattle will now travel to Los Angeles to take on the Sparks, while Chicago will visit the Las Vegas Aces. Those single-elimination second-round matchups will take place on Sunday.
DeShields Powers Sky Past Mercury
The Sky had little trouble in their first-round win, beating the Phoenix Mercury 105-76 at Wintrust Arena. Chicago was led by Diamond DeShields, who scored 25 points in her first career playoff game to lead the way against Phoenix.
“I knew there was an opportunity for me to outrun them,” Deshields, a 24-year-old small forward, told the Chicago Tribune. “I know when I’m doing that, it makes everyone else’s job easier.”
Phoenix center Brittney Griner struggled, leaving the game twice due to knee pain before finishing with just six points in 14 minutes of play. Meanwhile, Diani Taurasi didn’t dress for the game, after playing just six games all season for the Mercury.
Chicago now has the daunting task of traveling to take on Las Vegas, which is led by interior threats Liz Cambage and A’ja Wilson.
“We have to prepare because we’re going to a place where they play well,” Chicago head coach James Wade told the Tribune. “We have to prepare for Cambage because she’s one of the most dominant, if not the most dominant, players in the league.”
Seattle Continues WNBA Title Defense
Meanwhile, the defending WNBA champion Seattle Storm remained alive for at least one more game after beating the Minnesota Lynx 84-74. Seattle point guard Jordin Canada scored a career-high 26 points to lead the Storm, who are without both 2018 league MVP Breanna Stewart and veteran starting point guard Sue Bird.
The game saw both sides work hard to shut down the other team’s leading scorer, with both defenses being effective in that regard. Natasha Howard scored just two points for Seattle, while Odyssey Sims was held to a single point for Minnesota.
But the Storm were better able to adjust and pull away late, as Jewell Loyd added another 22 points in a dominant backcourt performance for Seattle.
“We got great guard play,” Seattle head coach Dan Hughes told reporters afterwards. “You’ve got to really like the guard play that we had today.”
Seattle now moves on to a Sunday showdown with Nneka Ogwumike and the third-seeded Los Angeles Sparks.
WNBA Championship Odds (Via FanDuel)
- Washington Mystics (-110)
- Connecticut Sun (+440)
- Los Angeles Sparks (+500)
- Las Vegas Aces (+700)
- Seattle Storm (+2200)
- Chicago Sky (+2600)
While the Storm and the Sky have survived one round of the WNBA Playoffs, they still have a long road ahead of them if they want to contend for a championship. Sunday’s games are again single-elimination affairs, after which the two survivors will move on to the semifinal round, where they will face off against the league’s top two seeds – the Washington Mystics and Connecticut Sun – in best-of-five series.
The Mystics are the clear favorite to win the WNBA championship, with FanDuel Sportsbook listing them at -110 to earn the title this year. They are followed by the Sun (+440), Sparks (+500), and Aces (+700), with the Storm and Sky still seen as longshots to come out on top.