The 2018 WNBA playoffs are built for drama and for the cream to rise to the top. They are littered with the best talent in the sport, drama and heated rivalries. Tuesday’s first round, one-game elimination matchups feature some iconic players and are looking like potential classics. The Phoenix Mercury will meet the Dallas Wings and familiar foes will battle as the LA Sparks clash with the defending-champion Minnesota Lynx.
The #WNBAPlayoffs are SET! Action begins Tuesday as the first round commences! #WatchMeWork
#5 Phoenix Mercury
When you’re led by a possible GOAT candidate in Diana Taurasi, a championship is always within reach. Taurasi, known as “The White Mamba” for her ability to take over a game in clutch moments like Kobe Bryant, owns a nice stash of all-time league records, including career points, most three-pointers made and most field goals made.
The Cali kid has the Mercury seeking its fourth title in franchise history, which would tie the Houston Comets and Minnesota Lynx for the most all-time. This is Taurasi's 15th star-studded season in the league and she’s definitely one of the most notable WNBA players to walk the earth.
And at age 36, she isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. She ranks fourth in the league in scoring (20.6 ppg), her trash talk game is still elite and she’s the player you want to go to war within a single game playoff elimination.
@DianaTaurasi & @De11eDonne earned #WNBA Player of the Month honors with stellar play in August! #WatchMeWork
#8 Dallas Wings
Most WNBA players are in it for the glory. It’s an affirmation of a journey that comprised years of blood, sweat, tears of facing elite competition and eventually rising to professional status.
Australian baller Liz Cambage, on the other hand, is about her bread, so she’s preferred playing overseas to being a high profile but underpaid WNBA talent. Cambage left the WNBA after a 1.5 seasons in the league. In June 2012, she bounced before the season was over and signed with the Zhejiang Chouzhou basketball club in China, reportedly for a salary of $400,000 (Australian dollars). It made her one of the highest-paid female ballers in the world.
After a four-year absence from the WNBA, Cambage returned to the league in 2018 and has been an unstoppable force, scoring a league-record 53 points to go with 10 rebounds and five blocked shots in Dallas’ 104-87 home victory over New York.
Liz Cambage scored a WNBA record, 53 points! 😱😱😱 https://t.co/RotG3xK2re
She followed her record-breaking performance with a 35-point effort in a win over Washington to set a two-game record of 88 points. Cambage leads the WNBA in scoring (22.8 ppg) and ranks second in rebounds (9.7 rpg).
@ecambage just scored a #WNBA record 309 PTS over a 10-game span! See her duel @brittneygriner in @DallasWings / @PhoenixMercury to open the #WNBAPlayoffs Tuesday night. (8:30 PM ET, ESPN2) Learn More ➡️ https://t.co/UleNpBkXmW https://t.co/P5ToRGa0kW
She has been outspoken this season about the discrepancy she sees in the league when compared to other professional leagues. She doesn’t think the pay is commensurate with the work she puts in and the physical toll of competing in the league.
“I've said this many times: [The WNBA] doesn't pay my bills ... playing here doesn't pay my bills," Cambage said prior to the Wings’ 96-76 loss to the Connecticut Sun last Tuesday. “We make more money overseas. I'm ready to have next summer off and focus on getting a European contract where its 10 seasons here worth the pay."
Proud of @LVAces for taking a stand against the ridiculous conditions @WNBA athletes are caused to endure. Proud of those roaring courageously re: pay inequity. GRATEFUL to all pro's for the immeasurable impact their example has on countless young women @ecambage @BillieJeanKing
“It sucks because I love to be here, I love to put the game out there, I love what comes with playing here. But at the end of the day, for my longevity, I worry about my body, my mind, and my soul. I really don't get paid enough to be beaten up every game. I'm not a WWE wrestler and that's how it feels sometimes out on the court.”
Strong words from a woman who is 6-foot-8 with a mega game, major presence and always making sure her pockets stay right while advocating for her fellow players.
We won’t be having another Los Angeles Sparks -- Minnesota Lynx Finals as these perennial power squads, who have battled it out in the finals the last two years with each series going five games, will be one and done.
A five-time All-Star, Candace Parker is one of only three players in WNBA history – along with Maya Moore and Lisa Leslie – to have earned regular-season MVP, Finals MVP, and All-Star Game MVP honors. Parker’s seeking her second title in three years and the fourth title in franchise history for the Sparks.
@Tdot_Girl21 And they thought @Candace_Parker wasn't the GOAT https://t.co/embMo6te8T
Nobody wants to face the Lynx in the playoffs, not even the Sparks. Last season, Minnesota won its fourth WNBA title in seven seasons (2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017), while also protesting and advocating for human rights. A fifth championship this year would make the Lynx the first WNBA team with five titles, breaking a tie with the Houston Comets (1997-2000).
Having reached The Finals in six of the past seven seasons, the Lynx are in elite company – only five franchises in the NBA, NHL, MLB, and NFL have reached their respective championship series or game in six of seven seasons.
Police officers working at a WNBA game leave after players wear "Black Lives Matter" shirts. https://t.co/JhE0mwbaMu
The team is driven by the impending retirement of future Hall of Famer Lindsay Whalen. Whalen has won four WNBA championships, she has six All-Star selections, three All-WNBA First Team nods and three assist titles in her 15-year career.
Waiting In The Cut
The first two rounds are single-elimination, with the WNBA semifinals and Finals decided over a five-game series. The top two seeds, the Seattle Storm and Atlanta Dream receive automatic byes to the semifinals. The Connecticut Suns and Washington Mystics are waiting in the second round cut.
With a league-best 24-8 record, the Storm’s ruled the WNBA this regular season.and has perennial All-Star Sue Bird leading a team of young stars in Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd. The franchise is eyeing its third championship in franchise history and first since 2010.
The 37-year-old OG continues to break records in her 16th WNBA season. The 11-time All-Star is the WNBA career assists crown holder and is the top scorer in Storm history. The Queens, NY baller is always ready for a title run.
No. 1 seed clinched ✅ @breannastewart records 22 PTS & 15 REB to help @seattlestorm earn the top seed! #WatchMeWork https://t.co/ZdNvibWWNA
Having "Seattle Stew" to do the heavy lifting has prolonged Bird’s career. Stewart is an MVP candidate and the fastest player in WNBA history to reach 1,000 points and 500 rebounds (55 games). Stewy’s 22 points per game rank second in the WNBA.
And don’t sleep on Jewell Loyd. The 2015 WNBA Rookie of the Year and No. 1 overall draft pick has blossomed into an All-Star while averaging 16.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists for the Storm.