Updated: Nov 24, 2020
The first two rounds of the WNBA playoffs saw the only two teams who beat this year’s Las Vegas Aces get eliminated.
In fact, this unpredictable playoffs saw both teams in last year’s finals playing in must-wins in the first round.
Not only did Chicago and Phoenix beat Vegas this season, both teams swept the season series in the shortened WNBA regular season.
The No. 6 seed Chicago Sky lost in the first round to the Connecticut Sun, last season’s runner-up to the title, 94-81.
The Sun dominated the Sky winning the rebound battle 40-21, led by the forward tandem of Alyssa Thomas and DeWanna Bonner.
Thomas tallied 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists while Bonner poured in 23 points and pulled in 12 rebounds.
The 28-point effort for Thomas marks a playoff career-high for her.
Keeping up the momentum, Connecticut downed the No. 3 seeded Los Angeles Sparks, 73-59, to set up a semifinal matchup with the Aces.
LA forward Candace Parker was the only Spark in double figures until veteran Seimone Augustus crossed the threshold late in the fourth quarter.
Connecticut had all five starters score 10-plus points.
After beating the defending champion and No. 8 seeded Washington Mystics in the first round, Diana Taurasi’s No. 5 seed Mercury came up just short in the following round.
Guard Shey Peddy played hero for Phoenix, hitting the game-winning three-pointer as time expired.
Taurasi’s stat line consisted of 23 points, six assists and four rebounds. She was aided by first-year teammate Skylar Diggins-Smith who added 24 points, six rebounds and five assists.
It was a completely different story against the No. 4 seeded Minnesota Lynx as Diggins-Smith struggled scoring only eight points on 3-of-15 shooting.
Taurasi scored 28 points and dished out nine assists.
Aces vs. Sun
All that action in the first two rounds settles into a WNBA semifinals that features a matchup between the No. 1 seed Aces facing the No. 7 seed Sun and the No. 2 seed Storm against the No. 4 seed Lynx.
Rebounding and moving the ball will prove key for whoever wins the former series as Vegas controlled both in a series sweep of Connecticut.
The Aces won both games by 21 and 15 points respectively.
Guard Kayla McBride led the way with 25 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the field to go along with three steals.
Her success was a part of Vegas’ 36 made field goals on 25 assists. In addition, the Aces won the rebounding battle 37-26.
However, the team lost the rebounding battle in the second game against the Sun but still won by double digits.
Vegas was aided by three 20-point scorers as the team compiled 25 assists on 38 made field goals.
For comparison purposes, Connecticut had 11 assists on 25 made field goals.
Forward A’ja Wilson led all scorers with 24 points on 10-of-13 from the floor. Aces Dearica Hamby and Jackie Young were the other 20 point scorers.
Hamby added four steals while Young four steals of her own and nine assists on a night where she matched her career-high in scoring.
Storm vs. Lynx
As for the other semifinal series, three-point shooting and pressure defense may tell the story.
Seattle swept the season series, winning both games by 24 and 15 points. Minnesota’s biggest lead in both games was four points.
In a 90-66 blowout in late July, the Storm rained down 11 three-pointers while holding the Lynx to just five.
Six different players made a three-pointer.
Seattle was led by forward Breanna Stewart and guard Sue Bird with 16 points apiece.
Minnesota forward Sylvia Fowles became the WNBA’s all-time leading rebounder during her 15-point, 11-rebound outing.
She is expected to return from a calf injury during this series.
Five different Storm players scored in double figures in the second meeting between these two teams led by forward Natasha Howard’s 19 points followed by Stewart’s 18 points.
In both games, Seattle forced Minnesota into 48 turnovers while keeping their number to half of that.
Both of these series will follow the best-of-5-games format after the win or go home fashion of the first two rounds.
If Vegas and Seattle wins, it will be the third time in the last five years that a No. 1 and No. 2 seeds faced off in the WNBA Finals.
The Aces-Sun matchup opens the semifinal round at 1 p.m. while the Storm-Lynx clash is set for 3 p.m.