Catch up on the playoff action as we look towards the 2021 WNBA Final.
By Alexandra Cadet
The wait is finally over for WNBA fans across the world: the 2021 playoffs have begun. In case you missed any of the exciting matches that have taken place so far, we’ve put together a full recap of each game. The semifinals are already underway, so let’s get straight to it.
Round 1 of the WNBA playoffs started with a bang, as the Chicago Sky dispatched the Dallas Wings by a score of 81–64. It took a little while for the victorious home team to truly settle the match—the Wings put up quite a fight in the second and third quarters—but there was no stopping the Sky’s dominant offense, who managed to hold a lead for the entire game. The arguable star of the show was Kahleah Copper, who was the match’s top scorer with a whopping 23 points. Maybe now the Chicago AP will spell her name correctly?
Shortly after the Sky’s impressive display, the underdog Liberty squad suffered a heartbreakingly narrow defeat against the Mercury. The match was unexpectedly chaotic, with both teams holding the lead on multiple occasions and the match-winning point being scored by Brianna Turner with less than half a second remaining. This game was a thriller for diehards and casual viewers alike. If you want to see a microcosm of the wildly fluctuating fan reactions that make matches like these so special, look no further than the two messages tweeted by the Liberty’s official account right before and after Turner’s game-winning point. How could you not want to watch this league?
The good times continued to roll for Mercury in Round 2, who took down a Breanna Stewart-less Storm in what may have been Sue Bird’s final game. The teams were evenly matched, and the game headed into overtime, where after five tense minutes, the Mercury managed to eke out the win, thanks in large part to WNBA legend Diana Taurasi’s heroics.
After the match, Taurasi and Bird swapped jerseys and posed for pictures to the sound of fans chanting for “one more year” of Sue Bird in the league. Regardless of what decision Bird makes, it’s indisputable that a hard-fought, entertaining match such as this would not be the worst way to cap off her illustrious career, even though it ended in a loss.
After receiving a tournament bye for Round 1, the Lynx opened (and promptly closed) their playoff campaign with a bizarre loss to the Sky. One could argue that the Lynx’s shaky defense against the Sky’s solid counterattack was the deciding factor, with Sylvia Fowles (who was named the 2021 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year just hours earlier) fouling out in the dying seconds of the game. However, the blame for this loss cannot be placed on just one factor; at the end of the day, the Lynx just never looked like they could pin down the steadily improving Sky.
At the time of writing, the five-game semifinal series has begun, with the Aces up 1–0 over the Mercury, and the Sky taking the first game against the Sun. The semifinals continue Thursday night, and after the drama the WNBA playoffs have given us so far, you won’t want to miss this.
A schedule for the upcoming playoff games (as well as final scores for past matches) can be found here.