The Las Vegas Aces overcame the Seattle Storm in the standings on the final day, and in a head-to-head matchup, to clinch the No. 1 seed in the 2020 WNBA playoffs.
The Aces defeated the Storm, 86-84, in the penultimate game of the WNBA’s season from IMG Academy in Florida. The result flipped the teams after the Storm held it for six weeks.
A’ja Wilson, a leading MVP candidate, had 23 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals to lead the Aces. Dearica Hamby, again a sixth woman of the year contender, had 23 as well with seven rebounds and eight assists.
Jewell Loyd led the Storm with 30 points. Alysha Clark had 16 as neither Sue Bird or Breanna Stewart played for the Storm. They missed the last game of the regular season due to injury as well.
The playoff picture is still not complete. The Dallas Wings kept their hopes alive in the early game behind Arike Ogunbowale, a future MVP consideration. All eyes are on the season final between the Washington Mystics and Atlanta Dream to determine if the Mystics or Wings will get in.
Aces clinch No. 1 seed
The Storm (18-4) came into the season as clear favorites for the title and held that spot atop the standings all season behind veteran Sue Bird and MVP candidate Breanna Stewart.
The Aces (18-4) were a question mark after losing big names to opt-outs in the shortened season at IMG Academy. They cemented themselves early as one of the best teams and solidified it over the final weekend with wins over the No. 3 seed Los Angeles Sparks and the Storm.
They are both in the best spots since they get double-byes into the semifinals. It gives them a week of rest; the best-of-five series begins on Sunday, Sept. 20.
The No. 1 seed is usually a get because of home-court advantage, but in the wubble at IMG Academy that means uniform color and their own music choices. It also means drawing the lower seed, though as mentioned on the ABC broadcast on Sunday in this truncated season, it may not mean much.
The Aces played back-to-back games to close the season after the Storm-Aces game was rescheduled. They clinched a top-2 seed with a win over the Los Angeles Sparks on Saturday.
Final game of WNBA season will determine No. 8 seed
Arike Ogunbowale did it again. The Dallas Wings star hit the game-winning shot against the New York Liberty in the early game on Sunday to keep her team in playoff contention. The Wings won, 82-79.
Ogunbowale averaged a league-best 22.8 points in the regular season. She set a new record for scoring average by a second-year player, passing Cynthia Cooper’s 22.7 points per game in 1998. It was the second year of the league’s existence.
It’s been a wild final week for the Wings, Mystics and Dream as they fight for the final playoff spot. The Mystics, the reigning 2019 champions, will get in if they win the final game, which airs on Facebook. If the Dream win, it puts the Mystics and Wings even with the same record. The Wings, the youngest team in the league, will get in via tiebreakers.
The Mystics defeated the Dream, 98-91, on Aug. 19. Rookie of the year contender Chennedy Carter did not play for Atlanta due to an ankle injury.
WNBA 2020 playoff standings
The middle section of the playoff standings were solidified heading into the final day of the season. The Storm and Aces game had been rescheduled to Sunday and the final spot was still up for grabs after a week of moments and upsets.
1. Las Vegas Aces
2. Seattle Storm
3. Los Angeles Sparks
6. Chicago Sky
The first round is single elimination and is on ESPN2 on Tuesday evening beginning at 7 p.m. ET. The Sun will play the Sky and the No. 8 seed will play the Mercury in the later game.
The Sparks and Lynx await in the single-elimination second round on Thursday.
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