WNBA Playoff Scenarios

Each team’s best and worst case scenarios heading into the final days of the regular season

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The WNBA regular season comes to an end this weekend, which means the playoff picture is getting clearer by the day. There are still 2,048 game combinations, but that’s down from over eight million just a week ago.

With Connecticut locked in as the No. 1 seed, Chicago set in the No. 6 spot, and Atlanta and Indiana eliminated, there are eight teams whose seed has yet to be mathematically determined. Let’s take a look at the best case and worst case for each of them over the next five days.

Las Vegas Aces

Best case: No. 2 seed

What needs to happen: The Aces’ magic number to clinch a double-bye is down to one. Between the two remaining Aces games and the two remaining Lynx games, the Aces will clinch the No. 2 seed if any one of the four goes their way.

Worst case: No. 3 seed

What needs to happen: To lose out on the No. 2 seed, Las Vegas will need to lose both of its remaining games and Minnesota will have to finish out with two wins.

Minnesota Lynx

Best case: No. 2 seed

What needs to happen: Minnesota’s path to snagging the last double bye is unlikely but simple: Win out while the Aces lose out.

Worst case: No. 5 seed

What needs to happen: In order to drop all the way to No. 5, Minnesota will have to lose both of its remaining games and the Mercury will have to win both of theirs.

Seattle Storm

Best case: No. 3 seed

What needs to happen: The easiest way for the Storm to secure the No. 3 seed is for them to win their final game and get at least one more loss from Minnesota. But Seattle can still get that spot with a loss on Friday, with some help of course.

If the Storm lose to Phoenix, they’ll also need the following results in order to clinch the No. 3 spot: Las Vegas to win out, Chicago to lose out, and Minnesota to lose out. That’s five games that they will need to go their way, so their best hope is to take care of business in their last game.

Worst case: No. 5 seed

What needs to happen: This scenario also has two ways of happening, and the second is equally involved. The first is simply Seattle to lose and Minnesota to win at least one more game.

The second way the Storm can end up playing on the opening night of the playoffs also requires them losing, but in addition to that Minnesota will have to lose out, Las Vegas will have to beat Phoenix on Sunday, and Chicago will have to win at least one of its remaining games.

Phoenix Mercury

Best case: No. 3 seed

What needs to happen: If the Mercury win out and the Lynx lose out, the No. 3 seed belongs to Phoenix. No other scenario gets Phoenix to No. 3.

Worst case: No. 5 seed

What needs to happen: If the Mercury loses to Seattle, they will be locked into the No. 5 spot regardless of the outcome of their last game. A win over Seattle would make things more interesting, because it would open up the possibility of a three-way tie between Minnesota, Seattle, and Phoenix at 20-12.

In addition to a Phoenix win followed by a loss, that tie would also involve Minnesota losing its last two games. And in order for the Mercury to emerge at the bottom of that three-way tiebreaker, Chicago will have to lose its final two games as well.

Dallas Wings

Best case: No. 7 seed

What needs to happen: Dallas can make things easy by winning it’s last game and locking itself into the No. 7 line. If the Wings lose, they can still finish seventh, but they’ll need the winner of Friday’s Mystics vs. Liberty game to lose its other remaining game.

Worst case: No. 8 seed

What needs to happen: It follows then that in order for the Wings to finish eighth, they’ll have to lose their last game and have either New York or Washington finish with two more wins.

Washington Mystics

Best case: No. 7 seed

What needs to happen: The Mystics will need three games to go their way in order to land on the No. 7 line. They’ll need to win their two games, and Dallas will have to lose its final game as well.

Worst case: Miss playoffs

What needs to happen: Despite Dallas and Los Angeles being part of the big logjam from seventh to tenth, all that matters for the Mystics’ playoff hopes are their games and New York’s. To miss out on the playoffs, the Mystics will need to lose out or the Liberty will need to win out.

New York Liberty

Best case: No. 7 seed

What needs to happen: The Liberty still have an outside shot at the No. 7 seed if they win out, but they will need the Sparks to beat the Wings as well.

Worst case: Miss playoffs

What needs to happen: There are three ways that the Liberty can be eliminated. The first is simply by losing to Washington on Friday. If that doesn’t happen, it will require a loss to the Sun plus a Mystics win over the Lynx or a loss to the Sun paired with two Los Angeles wins.

Los Angeles Sparks

Best case: No. 8 seed

What needs to happen: The Sparks need to get each of five games to go their way in order to sneak into the final spot. In addition to winning their last two games, they will need Washington to lose both of its remaining games and Connecticut to beat New York tonight.

Worst case: Miss playoffs

What needs to happen: If any one of those five games doesn’t go LA’s way, the Sparks will be watching the playoffs from home.


Be sure to follow along on Twitter (@herhoopstats) as we track how the scenarios change as each of the remaining games is completed.


Thanks for reading the Her Hoop Stats Newsletter. If you like our work, be sure to check out our stats site, our podcast, and our social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also buy Her Hoop Stats gear, such as laptop stickers, mugs, and shirts!

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