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WNBA playoffs preview: Format, bracket, odds, TV schedule, streaming

Sporting News logo Sporting News 9/24/2021 Micah Adams

The WNBA tipped off on Thursday with the Chicago Sky and Phoenix Mercury advancing to the second round. 

Candace Parker finished with 11 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 assists to lead Chicago past the Dallas Wings. In the second game, the Phoenix survived a scare from the New York Liberty. After New York tied it up 82-82 on a three-pointer by Betnijah Laney with 2.7 seconds left, Phoenix's Brianna Turner was fouled while attemping the game-winning lay-up. She made the second free throw to send Phoenix into the second round.

Here is everything you need to know heading into the second round.

WNBA playoff format and bracket

Unlike the NBA, which sends the same number of playoff teams from each conference, the top eight teams qualify for the WNBA playoffs, regardless of conference.

WNBA playoff seeds
Seed W-L Win pct GB
1. Connecticut Sun 26-6 0.813 --
2. Las Vegas Aces 24-8 0.750 2.0
3. Minnesota Lynx 22-10 0.688 4.0
4. Seattle Storm 21-11 0.656 5.0
5. Phoenix Mercury 19-13 0.594 7.0
6. Chicago Sky 16-16 0.500 10.0
7. Dallas Wings 14-18 0.438 12.0
8. New York Liberty 12-20 0.375 15.0

There are four rounds in all.

  • The teams with the two best records earn a double bye to the best-of-five semifinals.
  • The teams with the third-best and fourth-best records earn a bye to the single-elimination second round.
  • The next four teams open with a single-elimination first round.
  • Teams are reseeded after each round with the highest seed facing off against the lowest-remaining seed in each round.

MORE: Watch the WNBA playoffs live with fuboTV (free 7-day trial)

When do the WNBA playoffs start in 2021?

  • Last day of regular season: Sunday, Sept. 19
  • WNBA playoffs begin: Thursday, Sept. 23
  • WNBA Finals begin: Sunday, Oct. 10
  • WNBA Finals last possible game: Tuesday, Oct. 19

WNBA playoffs channels, how to live stream

ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 will provide coverage of up to 19 games during the WNBA playoffs and the WNBA Finals. You can also live stream the WNBA playoffs with fuboTV (free seven-day trial).

MORE: Upcoming key dates for the 2021-22 NBA season

WNBA playoff schedule 2021

Thursday, Sept. 23 — First round (single elimination)

Game Score
(6) Chicago Sky def. (7) Dallas Wings 81-64
(5) Phoenix Mercury def. (8) New York Liberty 83-82

Sunday, Sept. 26 — Second round (single elimination)

Game Time (ET) Channel
(5) Phoenix Mercury at (4) Seattle Storm 3 p.m. ET ABC
(6) Chicago Sky at (3) Minnesota Lynx 5 p.m. ET ESPN2

Semifinals (best of five) — (1) Connectict Sun vs. TBD

* If necessary
Game Date Matchup Time (ET) Channel
Game 1 Tue., Sept. 28 TBD at Connecticut 8 p.m. ESPN2
Game 2 Thu., Sept. 30 TBD at Connecticut 8 p.m. ESPN2
Game 3 Sun., Oct. 3 Connecticut at TBD TBD TBD
Game 4* Wed., Oct. 6 Connecticut at TBD TBD ESPN
Game 5* Fri., Oct. 8 TBD at Connecticut TBD ESPN2

 Semifinals (best of five) — (2) Las Vegas Aces vs TBD

* If necessary
Game Date Matchup Time (ET) Channel
Game 1 Tue., Sept. 28 TBD at Las Vegas 10 p.m. ESPN2
Game 2 Thu., Sept. 30 TBD at Las Vegas 10 p.m. ESPN2
Game 3 Sun., Oct. 3 Las Vegas at TBD TBD TBD
Game 4* Wed., Oct. 6 Las Vegas at TBD TBD ESPN
Game 5* Fri., Oct. 8 TBD at Las Vegas TBD ESPN2

WNBA Finals (best of five)

* If necessary
Game Date Time (ET) Channel
Game 1 Sun., Oct. 10 3 p.m. ABC
Game 2 Wed., Oct. 13 9 p.m. ESPN
Game 3 Fri., Oct. 15 9 p.m. ESPN2
Game 4* Sun., Oct. 17 3 p.m. ESPN
Game 5* Tue., Oct. 19 9 p.m. ESPN2

Odds to win 2021 WNBA Finals

The Connecticut Sun, winners of 14 straight games entering the playoffs, are the betting favorite to win the title at +200. These odds were entering the 2021 playoffs.

Odds courtesy of BetMGM

Team Odds
Connecticut Sun +200
Las Vegas Aces +220
Seattle Storm +400
Minnesota Lynx +750
Phoenix Mercury +900
Chicago Sky +1800
Dallas Wings +10000
New York Liberty +10000
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