The spotlight entering the final week of the WNBA regular season shines on four teams jostling for three playoff spots.
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The New York Liberty and Dallas Wings, meanwhile, are comfortably perched above the quartet of desperate squads in the standings, with both having punched their postseason tickets.
Equipped with such a luxury as the regular season closes, New York (30-7) and Dallas (20-17) meet on Tuesday in Arlington, Texas, aiming to situate themselves as favorably as possible in the playoff bracket.
The Liberty are guaranteed at least the second seed in the postseason and remain in the mix for the league’s best record after they pulled away late from the Chicago Sky on Sunday. New York trailed 61-60 early in the fourth quarter before it scored 22 straight points over the next 5:10 and steamrolled to an 86-69 victory in Chicago.
“I don’t know why we came out and it didn’t resemble anything that we’ve been doing lately — I don’t know if complacency or fatigue seeped in,” Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said. “We know we weren’t at our best … and we got back to it. This team is tough.”
Brondello’s squad trails the Las Vegas Aces (32-6) by 1 1/2 games for the league’s top seed and can steal that position by winning its final three games, provided that the Aces lose their last two.
Tuesday’s game carries more weight for Dallas, which is still fighting to lock up home-court advantage in the first round after Sunday’s 97-84 home overtime loss to the Indiana Fever. The fourth-place Wings lead the Minnesota Lynx (19-19) by 1 1/2 games for the final seed that guarantees two home games to begin the best-of-three opening round.
“We still have a lot more work to do,” Wings coach Latricia Trammell said, per mavsmoneyball.com after her team clinched its third consecutive playoff berth with a 110-100 win at Indiana on Friday. “I’m honored, blessed, and grateful that I’m going on this journey with them.”
Dallas’ Arike Ogunbowale ranks fifth in the WNBA with 21.1 points per game, while New York’s Breanna Stewart sits second with her 22.8 scoring average.
—Field Level Media