WNBA playoff Tuesday: Chicago, Phoenix down 3-4 seeds to advance to semifinals

And then there were four! With two upsets in Sunday’s WNBA playoff action, the 5-6 seeds advance to face the top 2 seeds in Connecticut and Las Vegas. Only 1 of the remaining 4 teams have ever won a championship: the Phoenix Mercury. Will the WNBA crown a first-time champ in 2021? 

(6) Chicago Sky at (1) Connecticut Sun prediction: Sky over 72.5 (-120)

I will start out by saying in their first two games, Chicago has been playing like future champs. However, we all know the Sky can quickly be their own enemy. Tonight’s highly anticipated match-up between Chicago and Connecticut will put the league’s top defensive team against a Sky team that averaged 83.3 ppg in the regular season and 85 ppg in their 2 playoffs outings.

Chicago took the series 2-1 in the regular season, but 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones did not play in any of those June matchups. The Sun were also missing Alyssa Thomas due to injury, who is now on the active roster and will provide another post presence to battle Candace Parker and company. Back in June, Connecticut’s defense was not what it is currently. While the posts will have their own key matchups to this game, I’m most excited for the guard play when top defenders Jasmine Thomas and Briann January go head-to-head against Allie Quigley, Diamond DeShields, and Kahleah Copper of the Sky. Given how well Chicago is currently playing, 72.5 points is a bit too low for me–even against the league’s top defense.

(5) Phoenix Mercury at (2) Las Vegas Aces prediction: Under 169.5 (-110)

Phoenix heads to Las Vegas for their first contest of a potential 5-game series in what should be closely played games. All eyes will be on how Diana Taurasi can make her mark in this series; she is clearly not 100 percent back from injury as we all saw on Sunday. 

Whoever wins this series will win from bench production. The Aces have one of the best, if not the best, supporting casts in the league. Dearica Hamby and Kelsey Plum would be starters on any of the 11 other teams in the WNBA. On the other side, Shey Peddy and Sophie Cunningham have been providing their own spark off the bench for Phoenix. Another match-up to watch this series is between Brittney Griner and Liz Cambage, both standing around 6’9”. I give the edge to Griner in this series as she put up 33 and 27 in two prior meetings, while Cambage has only played 1 game since coming off COVID protocols. Keep in mind that this is already Phoenix’s third playoff game in 6 days after squeaking out 1-point and 5-point victories. 

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