WNBA playoff preview: Vegas has the high hand as Sky try to repeat

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Sky star Courtney Vandersloot guards the Aces' Jackie Young during a July game at Wintrust Arena. Las Vegas won 93-83.

    Sky star Courtney Vandersloot guards the Aces' Jackie Young during a July game at Wintrust Arena. Las Vegas won 93-83. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/15/2022 6:18 PM

A'ja Wilson and the Las Vegas Aces will begin their quest for their first WNBA title a lot sooner than top seeds have in previous few years.

The Aces clinched homecourt throughout the playoff on the regular season's final day by earning the top seed in the WNBA postseason that begins Wednesday. The Chicago Sky will try to repeat as champs.

 

Before this year, Las Vegas would have a bye until the semifinals. The league changed the playoff format to best-of-three series in the quarterfinals instead of the single-elimination games in the opening two rounds it had been using since 2016.

"We're not done yet. This is the beginning," Wilson said after the Aces clinched the top seed on Sunday. "The regular season was nice, but now it's real. It doesn't matter what number is by your name in the playoffs. It could be anybody's night on any given day.

"It's playoffs, either you want it or you don't."

The top four seeds -- Las Vegas, the Sky, Connecticut and Seattle -- will all host the first two games of their series with a potential decisive game three on the home court of the lower seed.

Seattle's Breanna Stewart was happy that the league changed the playoff format.

"I think in the WNBA all teams are deserving of a series," she said. "It's a respect for the teams that make it. Striving for greatness throughout the whole season shouldn't finish with one game on the line. We're a professional league. It should be exciting and will be interesting with the 2-1 best of three."

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Back to back?

The Sky are trying to be come the first team to repeat as champions since Los Angeles won consecutive titles in 2001 and 2002. They host New York in the opening round beginning Wednesday.

Health status:

Dallas played without Arike Ogunbowale (abdominal issue) the last few games and Phoenix's Diana Taurasi was sidelined down the stretch with a quad injury. Both teams will be hard-pressed to advance without them. Phoenix also could still be without guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, who missed the last couple of games for personal reasons.

Under the radar:

The Connecticut Sun finished with the league's third-best record, behind Las Vegas and the Sky. The Sun closed out the season with eight wins in their final 10 games and will try and are seeking the franchise's first title.

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