WNBA Playoff Bracket 2019: Semifinals Matchups, TV, Live-Stream Schedule

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 8: Elena Delle Donne #11 of the Washington Mystics celebrates after the game against the Chicago Sky on September 8, 2019 at the St Elizabeths East Entertainment & Sports Arena in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Ned Dishman/Getty Images

The 2019 WNBA playoff field is down to four teams following Sunday's second-round elimination games.

The Washington Mystics and Connecticut Sun earned the top two seeds and thus received byes in the first two rounds. They finally know whom they're playing in the best-of-five semifinals. The Los Angeles Sparks beat the Seattle Storm, and the Las Vegas Aces followed up with a win over the Chicago Sky.

Here's the full schedule for the semifinals, per ESPN, and a look ahead to the next round.

           

Semifinals Schedule

Las Vegas vs. Washington

Game 1: Las Vegas at Washington; Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Game 2: Las Vegas at Washington; Thursday, Sept. 19, at 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Game 3: Washington at Las Vegas; Sunday, Sept. 22, at TBD (ESPN2)

Game 4: Washington at Las Vegas; Tuesday, Sept. 24, at TBD (ESPN2)

Game 5: Las Vegas at Washington; Thursday, Sept. 26, at TBD (ESPN2)

          

Los Angeles Sparks vs. Connecticut Sun

Game 1: Los Angeles at Connecticut; Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 6:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Game 2: Los Angeles at Connecticut; Thursday, Sept. 19, at 6:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Game 3: Connecticut at Los Angeles; Sunday, Sept. 22, at TBD (ESPN2)

Game 4: Connecticut at Los Angeles; Tuesday, Sept. 24, at TBD (ESPN2)

Game 5: Los Angeles at Connecticut; Thursday, Sept. 26, at TBD (ESPN2)

All WNBA playoff games are available to stream on WatchESPN.

         

Semifinal Preview

The Sky and Aces made a strong case for expanding the opening two rounds to at least five games, as they went down to the wire in Sin City.

Dearica Hamby intercepted a Courtney Vandersloot pass and hit a go-ahead three-pointer in the final seconds, which was the difference.

The Aces' reward for their win is a matchup against the top-seeded Washington Mystics, who had one of the best regular seasons in WNBA history.

The Mystics compiled a 26-8 record and a 14.8 net rating, per WNBA.com. The latter is the third-best ever, trailing the 2000 Houston Comets (18.4) and 1998 Comets (17.4).

Washington was 2-1 against Las Vegas, and the lone loss came as Elena Delle Donne was nursing a broken nose. When Delle Donne did play, the Mystics won by 23 and 29 points, respectively, and both victories came on the road in Las Vegas.

The question in this series is whether the Aces can nullify the Mystics' clear advantage in long-range shooting.

Spacing the floor is going to be an issue when A'ja Wilson and Liz Cambage are your top two scorers. Las Vegas averaged a league-low 5.5 made three-pointers. Washington was at the opposite end, hitting a league-best 9.3 per game.

That's a big reason the Mystics were first in net rating (112.9), with the Aces finishing in fifth (99.1), per WNBA.com.

In general, Washington is on a mission. It reached the WNBA Finals in 2018 but was clearly overmatched as Delle Donne nursed a knee injury. Now, Delle Donne is likely en route to her second MVP and poised to win the WNBA title that has so far eluded her.

Chiney Ogwumike is making her second trip to Connecticut since her trade to the Sparks in April.

The Hartford Courant's Mike Anthony reported the two-time All-Star had requested a trade from the Sun, with her representatives telling the team she'd consider taking a break from basketball.

Ogwumike's departure had a silver lining for the Sun, as it cleared their frontcourt logjam a bit and allowed Jonquel Jones and Shekinna Stricklen to have more playing time.

Jones built an MVP candidacy, averaging 14.6 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. Her 5.6 win shares were second to only Delle Donne in the regular season, per Basketball Reference. Stricklen was Connecticut's best floor-spacer, shooting 38.2 percent from beyond the arc and hitting a career-high 76 three-pointers.

The Sparks won the season series against the Sun, going 2-1, and the nature of their win over the reigning WNBA champion Storm will be a cause for concern from Connecticut's perspective in the semifinals.

You expect a team with Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike and Candace Parker to dominate inside. As a result, packing the paint and making Los Angeles beat you from deep is an obvious strategy to counteract that star-studded trio.

The Sparks shot 11-of-27 from the perimeter Sunday as Riquna Williams, Chelsea Gray and Sydney Wiese hit a number of timely three-pointers. It's the kind of performance that makes Los Angeles' offense almost unstoppable.

The Sun are keen to prove all of their doubters wrong.

Connecticut was only one game ahead of Los Angeles in the standings and 0.2 points better in net rating. One could argue the Sun will be underdogs against the Sparks team that showed up Sunday.

Either way, this series is shaping up as a five-game classic.

Related

    Report: Liberty Won't Bring Back HC Katie Smith

    WNBA logo
    WNBA

    Report: Liberty Won't Bring Back HC Katie Smith

    Joseph Zucker
    via Bleacher Report

    Della Donne Played Through Injury in Finals

    WNBA logo
    WNBA

    Della Donne Played Through Injury in Finals

    Megan Armstrong
    via Bleacher Report

    Get Your 'Strickly Buckets' T-Shirt 💦

    WNBA logo
    WNBA

    Get Your 'Strickly Buckets' T-Shirt 💦

    B/R SHOP
    via B/R SHOP

    Mystics Win WNBA Finals

    🏆 Washington defeats Connecticut 89-78 😎 Delle Donne 21 pts, 9 reb 🥇 Franchise's first championship

    WNBA logo
    WNBA

    Mystics Win WNBA Finals

    Megan Armstrong
    via Bleacher Report