The WNBA regular season came to a close on Sunday, with all 12 teams in action and two playoff spots still up for grabs. The New York Liberty, Atlanta Dream, Minnesota Lynx, and Phoenix Mercury all entered the final day of the regular season with a chance to go to the postseason, with a variety of ways each could get in (or get knocked out).
As it so happened, the Dream were in Brooklyn to face the Liberty, where New York’s path to the playoffs was simple: win and get in. As one would expect with a playoff spot on the line, the game was tightly contested throughout, with the two teams trading leads in the fourth quarter before the Liberty were finally able to grab control late, thanks to a Natasha Howard three-pointer that put them ahead by four. Aari McDonald would trim the lead to two with just over 26 seconds to play, but that was as close as the Dream got from there, as Sabrina Ionescu iced the game with free throws and the last efforts at a three to have a chance from Atlanta went begging.
Elsewhere, the Minnesota Lynx were playing in Connecticut against the 3-seeded Sun, who didn’t have seeding worries, but still wanted to finish the season strong. In what turned out to be WNBA legend Sylvia Fowles’ final game, the Sun fought off a late Minnesota rally to knock the Lynx out of the playoffs and, in turn, vault the Mercury into a playoff spot without the result of their finale against the Sky mattering to their chances.
For Phoenix, it’s a rather incredible continuation of a season that has been filled with drama, absences, and injuries, with most of their expected top contributors either no longer on the team or out for the season — most recently seeing Diana Taurasi get injured and Skylar Diggins-Smith leave the team for personal reasons.
Where each team fell in the seeding of the playoff bracket (which no longer features a single-elimination first round) was still to be determined, although the Sun (3-seed), Storm (4-seed), Mystics (5-seed), and Wings (6-seed) were all locked in, but the Aces locked in the 1-seed with a thrilling win over Seattle.