There are two weeks left until the 2021 WNBA regular season ends. On Sunday, September 19, the last franchises that have not done so will already play their 32nd game of the year, and from here to there little things remain to be solved. Individual awards. Records that are within reach. But, above all, deciding who will occupy the last two places that give access to the playoffs.
Because, at the top of the ranking, everything seems pretty clear. Except for surprise, Connecticut Sun and Las Vegas Aces will occupy the first two places, those that give direct access to the semifinals. Seattle, Minnesota and Phoenix will fight for the next three places, while the Chicago Sky seem already subscribed to sixth place.
The doubts are on the next step. Dallas Wings. New York Liberty. Washington Mystics. Los Angeles Sparks. Four names for two positions. The closure is open.
GUNS DUEL AT SUNRISE
Dallas Wings is the closest to him right now. The Texans took a giant step last night after their victory against Atlanta Dream, in what was a duel between two of the best guards in the league: Arike Ogunbowale and Courtney Williams.
Top scorer of the WNBA in 2020 and undisputed star in Dallas, Ogunbowale did not start the match in the best way. Erratic in the triple, not very aggressive, the escort could not find its rhythm. 2/10 in shooting from the field and Atlanta Dream, bottom of the league, who left at the end of the third quarter three points up.
Williams and Ogunbowale met at dawn of the fourth period to work things out. The first shot from class, from a deadly mid-range shot, from her reading of the pick and roll. 7 points, 3 assists. Ogunbowale did not hide. 8 points, 2 crucial steals. But what decided the party was the young band that accompanies her in Dallas, which promises joys. Marina Mabrey did not have her best day and Satou Sabally is injured, but Allisha Gray left at 19 points. Moriah Jefferson had 13 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Final result: 68-72.
Dallas remains with a 12-15 record, two games above ninth place. Ogunbowale is already greasing his pistols for the first-round playoff one-game duel. And so does the accompanying band. They are young, yes; but very dangerous.
THE MYSTICS, IN PICTURE
Precisely, the last defeat of Dallas Wings had occurred against the Washington Mystics, a team that now occupies the eighth place, the last place that gives access to the WNBA playoffs. But, as it has been happening all year, in the capital there are doubts. Physical doubts, above all.
The return of Elena Delle Donne has been a party in which the music has gone in the middle of the night. The two-time MVP has fallen back injured due to a sore back and, although it is a matter of days, this has caused her to miss her last two games. But that is not all. To Tina Charles, who has Diana Taurasi’s record for the highest scoring average in a season, an injury will also keep it aside until next week. At least.
Thus the things, and with a record of 10-16, the capital women are not going to have it easy to maintain their position. The schedule is not the best: there is a double meeting with Minnesota, games against Seattle and Chicago, and a key duel in New York against the Liberty on September 17.
LIBERTY AND SPARKS ROW COUNTERCURRENT
Perhaps the biggest argument that can support Washington Mystics’ playoff aspirations is that their rivals have it even tougher. You know, in a world of the blind …
Because New York Liberty, the team that stayed in the playoff spot all year, is experiencing a very turbulent return from the Games. They have lost 7 games out of 8. Their defense doesn’t quite work. And although yesterday both Sabrina Ionescu and Natasha Howard performed at a good level —20 points and 7 assists for the first, 15 and 6 rebounds for Howard—, the one that was not well was the one who had never taken a night off: Betnijah Laney.
With Laney at 3 points with just 4 field goals in 32 minutes, the Liberty were not the ones to beat the Seattle Storm. 75-85. His record that falls to 11-18 after 6 consecutive defeats. And he only has three games left to finish the league. The rivals: Dallas, Connecticut and Washington. Complicated.
Worse still is the Los Angeles Sparks, with a 10-18 record and pending games against Seattle, Connecticut, Dallas and Atlanta. The point is, there is hope. And with Nneka Ogwumike back at work, anything can happen.
Two interesting weeks ahead.
- Jonquel Jones and Sylvia Fowles, players of the month: The most common name in individual awards, Jonquel Jones, reappears in the awards for the month of August. The Connecticut Sun has been named player of the month in the Eastern Conference, cementing her candidacy for MVP. For his part, in the Western Conference, the award went to Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles.
- Astou Ndour-Fall: The only Spanish player in the WNBA is still out of the Chicago Sky squad due to a foot injury. The objective: to reach the playoffs 100%.
- Siblings: After sharing a dressing room at the Avenida de Salamanca Perfumeries, sisters Karlie and Katie Lou Samuelson have reunited, now in the Seattle Storm. Karlie, the older sister, was cut by the Los Angeles Sparks and signed by the Seattle sparks until the end of the season. We’ll see if they do as well as on this side of the pond.
(Cover photo by Tom Pennington / Getty Images)