It is WNBA Playoff Season, Child!

The WNBA common season has come to a detailed, and playoffs begin THIS WEDNESDAY. Fortunately, simply in the present day, Spectrum and Disney acquired their greed labored out and ESPN is again on TVs for individuals in NYC and LA. Now we will watch all of the ups and downs and drama and magic! However first, Natalie and Heather are right here to wrap-up the ultimate video games and peep the playoffs.

Heather: Natalie, we made it by means of the entire WNBA season and neither of us suffered any critical accidents from leaping round and shouting! And now the playoff discipline is about, video games begin this very week, and the season’s awards will begin rolling out quickly. How are you feeling?

Natalie: Effectively, whereas I may not have suffered any critical accidents, my fantasy staff was not so fortunate and I ended up having an abysmal season. Simply week after week of not having half my roster because of accidents. However not you! Congratulations for successful our Autostraddle Fantasy League for the second yr in a row!

Heather: I wish to thank DeWanna Bonner and in addition Alexis Morris for making DeWanna Bonner so mad at first of the season!

Right here’s to us plus-35s!

Natalie: Right here, right here!

However to reply your query extra immediately, I’m so enthusiastic about these playoffs, largely as a result of the ultimate video games of the common season gave us a preview of what the playoffs maintain in retailer. Chicago edging out Connecticut in extra time and Washington beating New York on the buzzer! It’s only a reminder that playoff basketball is right here and there’s way more parity within the league than the standings would possibly counsel. How are you feeling heading into these playoffs?

Heather: Precisely like that! I used to be actually so excited for the Mystics yesterday (don’t inform Stacy) as a result of they utterly leveled the taking part in discipline with that AMAZING buzzer-beater win. Their well being points have been heartbreaking this yr, as you’ve talked about with a lot coronary heart, so to see them heading into the playoffs with a extra full roster and a giant win? What a triumph. They usually nonetheless didn’t have Shakira Austin!

The Sky win was thrilling in very related methods. That staff thrives on being counted out after which exhibiting out. Plus Kah signed an enormous contract extension over the weekend and must be feeling tremendous assured. I began this season pondering nobody may beat the Aces in a sequence and now I actually do suppose one thing magical and nuts may occur! Perhaps even — particularly even?? — to the Liberty.

Natalie: Don’t let Stacy hear you speaking like that!

Because you introduced up the Sky we must always acknowledge that we have been each incorrect in our predictions final week. We each mentioned that we thought the Chicago Sky can be on the surface wanting in, come playoff time, however they gained 5 of their final six to beat out the Los Angeles Sparks for that eighth and last playoff slot. First, have been you shocked to see the Sky come on so robust and second, what do you suppose the long run holds for the LA Sparks?

Heather: I kinda liked being incorrect about them! Complete Sky transfer to point out us!

I used to be truly actually shocked and unhappy for the Sparks, however I do suppose they’ve so much to be enthusiastic about for the long run. I can see a world the place the Sparks get the second decide within the draft and Angel Reese comes out and finally ends up there, which appears like an excellent slot in an entire lot of the way. They performed with such a damage roster ALL YEAR so that may doubtless be higher subsequent season. Curt Miller continues to drive me nuts however there’s no denying he’s an incredible coach. Their fan base stays hyped year-round. I’ll be shocked in the event that they miss the playoffs once more subsequent yr. How about you?

Natalie: I imply, I feel reforming that franchise into a very skilled group was at all times going to take time however the accidents this yr really didn’t assist. They’ve acquired massive choices forward of them: two of their most constant gamers this yr, Nneka Ogwumike and Jordin Canada, are each on the finish of their contracts. I can’t think about Nneka taking part in wherever else however I really, really hope the franchise doesn’t attempt to lowball her as this league is wont to do with gamers they really feel like gained’t go elsewhere (see additionally: the Vanderquigs in Chicago). Give Nneka the SUPERMAX deal she deserves.

Heather: Think about making an attempt to lowball NNEKA OGWUMIKE.

Natalie: Canada’s going to be a problem as nicely as a result of she’s had such an incredible season and proven such unimaginable enchancment underneath Curt Miller’s system. However, with Jewell Loyd, Kahleah Copper, and Betnijah Laney already signing their extensions with their respective franchises, the marketplace for veteran scoring guards is scarce…so Canada may undoubtedly see some attractive gives from different franchises. If the Sparks wish to preserve Canada in LA, they’re going to have to slip as much as the desk with a legit deal.

Heather: I completely agree with each of these issues — and possibly it’s naive, however I feel the Sparks pays up for each of them.

Talking of Laney, Copper, Loyd — have been you shocked to see all of them get contracts finished by the tip of the season? I particularly wish to hear your ideas on Laney.

Natalie: I used to be, truly…particularly within the case of Jewell Loyd who I feel we’d heard plenty of rumblings that she is likely to be excited by taking part in for her hometown staff, the Chicago Sky. However whereas I feel the Sky are going to get higher finally as a result of Dwyane Wade has joined that possession group…it’s nonetheless onerous to have a look at that franchise — with out the draft picks and with out the services — and suppose that their future, within the quick time period goes to get higher. Loyd’s going to remain in Seattle and proceed to guide that franchise by means of their evolution.

I feel it’s telling, although, that Loyd and Copper each signed simply two yr offers.

Heather: Completely agree.

Natalie: I used to be shocked by the Laney signing as nicely…if solely as a result of I feel she’s improved her inventory a lot this season — she’s the lynchpin of that New York protection — that I feel that she may’ve fetched a premium. I’m shocked she didn’t no less than attempt to check the market in free company to see what alternatives have been on the market. I feel she deserves extra money than what New York is paying her, TBH.

However, look, I feel there are plenty of issues that go into these choices, past the cash. I feel Laney’s somebody who’s been a journeyman (journeywoman?) within the league…transferring from Chicago to Indiana to Atlanta and eventually to New York…and I feel, after going by means of that, there’s some safety to realizing the place you’re going to be and who you’re going to be taking part in with.

Heather: I agree with that too! I assume one of many primary promoting factors was that they’re going to attempt to preserve this complete staff collectively and check out for some form of dynasty state of affairs.

Nevertheless! One factor I’ve realized about Laney previously years is that she is a superb negotiator and cash supervisor, due to her mother (additionally a basketball legend). Like she saved her personal home when she acquired married over the summer season as a result of she’s accruing much more fairness in it earlier than she sells it within the NYC actual property market. She was simply casually explaining that in Group USA coaching this yr. I additionally suppose, such as you talked about, she’s improved her inventory much more this yr. It’s so telling that in that Athletic participant survey, she’s one of many high gamers that different gamers says is underrated, and while you get announcers who watch all of the video games, they’re nothing however infinite reward for her. For those who observe the WNBA just by the highlights, you would possibly miss her contribution, however for those who watch the league, you realize she’s essential.

As a Liberty fan, I’m THRILLED she’s staying.

Natalie: I guess you might be!

I used to be going so as to add although…clearly, I feel cash issues and I wish to see these gamers paid commensurate with their skills…however I additionally suppose, when you get to this degree, these gamers wish to win. And whether or not the Liberty do it this yr or subsequent yr, Betnijah Laney’s as shut as she’s ever been to a championship…and I can’t think about that doesn’t determine into her calculus someway.

Heather: Do you additionally get the sense — this sort of goes together with what you have been saying concerning the two-year offers — that the gamers are form of anticipating this league to get remade within the subsequent few years, money-wise?

Natalie: I completely do. The league’s going so as to add no less than two franchises and renegotiate their TV deal quickly and I feel everybody expects that to be a windfall for the W. After that, I absolutely count on the Gamers’ Union to choose out of the CBA and negotiate new phrases for his or her offers.

Heather: That feels so thrilling! These gamers deserve a lot extra!

Natalie: So, lets flip our consideration to the playoffs? What first spherical match-up has you most intrigued?

Heather: I’ll inform ya: I feel the Mystics have an actual shot to upset the Liberty! A variety of the commentary on Sunday was about how Stewie and JJ weren’t capturing nicely, however they weren’t capturing nicely as a result of the Mystics completely stymied them with their physicality. The Liberty had no solutions for getting pushed round, it acquired them pissed off and frazzled, and so they stayed that approach. One of many Liberty’s nice strengths is they only put on individuals out. You noticed this within the Chicago recreation final week. Even when different groups can hold in there a full half or three quarters, they finally simply run out of juice. That additionally occurred with the Mystics however they didn’t surrender. There was by no means second they thought they have been out of that recreation. Even that final second out of bounds play, full confidence. A lot of excessive seeding is a psychological impression in your opponents, and now what do the Mystics need to be afraid of?

Additionally, after all, nothing delights me like Submit-Season Arike.

Natalie: Clearly, that win towards the Liberty yesterday on New York’s residence court docket has to have the Mystics believing that they’ve acquired an opportunity to drag the upset on this sequence. To have beat the Liberty with out Shakira Austin…to have outscored New York within the paint…these are issues that construct your confidence.

(Not that this staff wants that increase as a result of I feel Natasha Cloud and Brittany Sykes are satisfied that they will beat anybody, wherever, at any time.)

Heather: I really like that about them!

Natalie: However one thing about yesterday felt like…and I’m sorry to make a school basketball comparability but it surely’s simply what got here to thoughts first…do you bear in mind when South Carolina misplaced to Kentucky within the SEC Championship in 2022?

Heather: Oh I certain do.

Natalie: I don’t know that South Carolina wins the championship that yr if Kentucky doesn’t upset them in that SEC championship. They’d been kinda coasting by means of their schedule, simply dispatching their opponents, and taking as a right that they should actually combat to win a championship. That loss shifts South Carolina into a unique gear and establishes a unique degree of focus…and so they don’t lose once more.

That loss to the Mystics felt like that SEC championship to me.

Heather: That’s such an excellent comparability and a far more optimistic learn than mine! I prefer it!

Natalie: I don’t wish to depend out this Mystics staff. Cloud and Sykes have been a dynamic duo to observe and Elena Delle Donne can gentle any staff up at any second…and, clearly, if they will get Shakira Austin again, that’s enormous. However I feel that was a loss on the precise proper time for the Liberty and I’m anticipating them to return into the playoffs with a renewed focus.

Heather: That’s an incredible learn. I’m simply so excited for this sequence now, much more than I used to be. Let’s contact on the opposite match-ups! Aces vs. Sky. At the moment ESPN known as the Grey-Plum-Younger backcourt the very best in WNBA historical past.

Natalie: We’ve underestimated the Sky already and so they’ve confirmed us incorrect however I’m unsure they’ve sufficient to get previous the Aces in that first spherical match-up. That hill simply feels insurmountable. They acquired swept by Las Vegas within the common season and the Aces are 19-1 at residence. What do you suppose?

Heather: I feel you’re completely proper. The Sky exceeded expectations snagging a play-off spot. The Aces would wish to have a traditionally horrible collapse for the Sky to truly win a sequence towards them.

Natalie: What concerning the Minnesota-Connecticut sequence? Who do you count on to return out on high in that sequence? Connecticut gained their common season sequence, 3-1.

Heather: I feel Alyssa Thomas isn’t going to win MVP, and I feel on some degree she is aware of that, and goes to maintain — in her personal phrases — “making it look straightforward” to do unimaginable issues. I haven’t had an excellent learn on Minnesota all season, so I gained’t fake to have some sudden perception into them now. Napheesa Collier hasn’t cooled off and if anybody on this league is aware of find out how to get probably the most out of gamers within the playoffs, it’s Cheryl Reeves. These two groups are related within the sense that they each really feel like they nonetheless have one thing to show. The Lynx would possibly take it to a few video games, however I feel the Solar win. How about you?

Natalie: That is an attention-grabbing sequence to me as a result of these groups really feel like two sides of the identical coin to me. Each groups are form of work horse groups that aren’t essentially going to be flashy however they’ll grind it out to get the win. However the massive distinction between them is the consistency. Alyssa Thomas and DeWanna Bonner are going to point out up for Connecticut each night time and Tiffany Hayes is a dependable scoring possibility. Examine that to Minnesota the place Collier’s the staff’s lone constant scoring menace. You’ll have a recreation the place Diamond Miller will present out or Kayla McBride or Tiffany Mitchell may have an impressive recreation…however the very subsequent recreation, these gamers are MIA.

Heather: You nailed it.

Natalie: So I feel this sequence may go three video games, if the Lynx can present some consistency, but when they seem like the staff that misplaced to the Fever yesterday? The Solar are going to shut it out early and get some relaxation earlier than they face the winner of that Mystics/Liberty sequence.

Did you suppose that common season nearer between Dallas and Atlanta was an excellent harbinger of what followers can count on from their playoff sequence?

Heather: Your ideas on the Lynx/Solar us actually an ideal segue to the Dream vs. Wings. Atlanta misplaced by virtually 20 yesterday, that means — I’m fairly certain — they dropped all their video games to the Wings this yr. On paper, that simply doesn’t appear proper. It feels just like the Wings and the Dream are literally an ideal match-up. Arike/Sabally/McCowan vs. Howard/Grey/Parker. It looks like it might be a 125 pt per staff shoot-out! The Wings preserve destroying the Dream within the paint. That they had 46 factors within the paint to the Dream’s 28 yesterday, and virtually twice as many rebounds (29 v 17). And I don’t suppose Atlanta has a solution for that as a result of Dallas is a rattling manufacturing facility of stellar submit play. McCowan, Howard, Kuier, Brown — and if all 4 of them someway handle to get in foul hassle or run out of steam, simply slot Satou Sabally down there! The Dream don’t have a solution for that, I don’t suppose.

Natalie: I feel when the Wings have been placing collectively this roster within the low season, I used to be admittedly perplexed as a result of “who wants that many post-players?!” However there appears to have been a way to Dallas’ insanity as a result of their post-rotation actually does put on on different groups…and so they simply beat them into submission. And you’ll assist in the submit, both, since you give Satou house to work otherwise you depart Arike out to do Arike issues…

Heather: That’s completely appropriate!

Natalie: Even when the Dream have been working at their finest and I don’t suppose anybody thinks they’re, the Wings can be a tough match-up for them. I’m anticipating Dallas to take it residence.

Heather: Me too! I do have plenty of hope for the Dream although! I actually do! However possibly not this yr.

So I feel we’re each saying the highest seeds will doubtless advance in all rounds? And I’m saying, of all these, the Mystics scare me probably the most.

Natalie: I’d agree with you.

Heather: Final week, we discovered about Carly Usdin’s new sequence, The Syd + TP Present!

Natalie: That is fairly the glow-up for Carly…from speaking concerning the travails of Jenny Schechter on To L And Again to this?

Heather: If we endure, we will additionally reign!

This present actually does look so good and homosexual. I’ve watched the trailer about ten occasions and cackled each time. Syd Colson belongs on TV.

Natalie: Syd Colson was completely made for this.

You and I’ve talked, for years, about how nice a actuality TV sequence primarily based on the W can be however I’m unsure that is what we had in thoughts. However nonetheless, I find it irresistible.

Heather: Oh no, we have been pondering Arduous Knocks — that is like Clown Knocks. Gotta begin someplace.

Natalie: In equity I vacillated between Arduous Knocks and Basketball Wives however sure.

Heather: To remain on theme, Carmen’s out of the workplace, however right here’s my nomination for Match of the Week.

Natalie: At all times the Aces.

Heather: I perceive why individuals hate them. They’re too charismatic for anybody else to compete.

Natalie, it has been probably the most enjoyable speaking by means of this complete season with you each Monday, an absolute spotlight of my complete summer season!

Natalie: It’s been my absolute pleasure!

Heather: Subsequent week we’ll see how sensible we’re about post-season basketball!

Natalie: Fingers crossed for excellent basketball and no accidents!

Heather: Right here, right here!

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