WNBA playoffs

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The WNBA Playoffs is an elimination tournament between 8 teams in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), ultimately deciding the final two teams who will play in the WNBA Finals. Since 2016, Verizon is the official sponsor.

Current format

Following the WNBA regular season, eight teams in the entire league qualify for the playoffs and are seeded one to eight.

Regular season records determine the seedings of the teams. The team with the best record receives seed one, the team with the next best record receives seed two, and so on. The top two seeds get double byes, while the next two seeds get first-round byes.

These seedings are used to create a bracket that determines the match-ups throughout the playoffs. The first round of the playoffs consists of two match-ups based on the seedings (5-8 and 6-7). The two winners advance to the second round with a match-up between the number 3 seed and the lower of the advancing seeds and another match-up between the number 4 seed and the other first round winner. The winners of the first two rounds advance to the semifinals, where the lower ranked seed of the winners faces the number 1 seed, while the other remaining team faces the number 2 seed.

The first two rounds are single elimination games played on the higher ranking seed's home court. The semifinals and WNBA Finals are best-of-five series played in a 2-2-1 format, meaning the team with home-court advantage (better record) hosts games 1, 2, and 5 while their opponent hosts games 3 and 4.

Tiebreak procedures

  1. Better winning percentage among all head-to-head games involving tied teams.
  2. Better winning percentage against teams within conference (for Finals only: better record against teams in the opposite conference).
  3. Better winning percentage against all teams with a .500 or better record at the end of the season.
  4. Better point differential in games involving tied teams.
  5. Coin toss (or draw of lots, if at least 3 teams are still tied after the first 4 tiebreakers fail).

Playoff series history

2017 season

 
First round:
Single elimination
(Sept. 6)
Second round:
Single elimination
(Sept. 10)
Semifinals:
Best-of-five
(Sept. 12 – Sept. 17)
WNBA Finals:
Best-of-five
(Sept. 24 - Oct. 4)
 
                           
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2
Los Angeles Sparks
3
 
 
5
Phoenix Mercury
0
 
 
 
 
 
4
Connecticut Sun
83
 
 
 
5
Phoenix Mercury
88
 
5
Phoenix Mercury
79
 
 
 
8
Seattle Storm
69
 
1
Minnesota Lynx
3
 
 
 
2
Los Angeles Sparks
2
 
6
Washington Mystics
86
 
 
 
7
Dallas Wings
76
 
3
New York Liberty
68
 
 
6
Washington Mystics
82
 
 
 
 
 
1
Minnesota Lynx
3
 
 
6
Washington Mystics
0
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Note: Teams re-seeded after second round and semi-finals.

Semifinals
Team 1 2 3
1
Minnesota Lynx
101 93 81
6
Washington Mystics
81 83 70
Team 1 2 3
2
Los Angeles Sparks
79 86 89
5
Phoenix Mercury
66 72 87
WNBA Finals
Team 1 2 3 4 5
1
Minnesota Lynx
84 70 64 80 85
2
Los Angeles Sparks
85 68 75 69 76


2016 season

 
First round:
Single elimination
(Sept. 21)
Second round:
Single elimination
(Sept. 24 and 25)
Semifinals:
Best-of-five
(Sept. 28 – Oct. 6)
WNBA Finals:
Best-of-five
(Oct. 9 – 20)
 
                           
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1
Minnesota Lynx
3
 
 
8
Phoenix Mercury
0
 
 
 
 
 
3
New York Liberty
94
 
 
 
8
Phoenix Mercury
101
 
5
Indiana Fever
78
 
 
 
8
Phoenix Mercury
89
 
1
Minnesota Lynx
2
 
 
 
2
Los Angeles Sparks
3
 
6
Atlanta Dream
94
 
 
 
7
Seattle Storm
85
 
4
Chicago Sky
108
 
 
6
Atlanta Dream
98
 
 
 
 
 
2
Los Angeles Sparks
3
 
 
4
Chicago Sky
1
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Note: Teams re-seeded after second round and semi-finals.

Semifinals
Team 1 2 3
1
Minnesota Lynx
113 96 82
8
Phoenix Mercury
95 86 67
Team 1 2 3 4
2
Los Angeles Sparks
95 99 66 95
4
Chicago Sky
75 84 70 75
WNBA Finals
Team 1 2 3 4 5
1
Minnesota Lynx
76 79 75 85 76
2
Los Angeles Sparks
78 60 92 79 77


2015 season

Conference Semi-Finals:
Best-of-3
Conference Finals:
Best-of-3
WNBA Finals:
Best-of-5
                 
E1 New York 2
E4 Washington 1
E1 New York 1
Eastern Conference
E3 Indiana 2
E2 Chicago 1
E3 Indiana 2
E3 Indiana 2
W1 Minnesota 3
W1 Minnesota 2
W4 Los Angeles 1
W1 Minnesota 2
Western Conference
W2 Phoenix 0
W2 Phoenix 2
W3 Tulsa 0

Bold Series winner
italics Team with home-court advantage

2014 season

There were 12 teams in the league. For the playoffs, the four teams with the best record in each conference were seeded one to four.

Conference Semi-Finals:
Best-of-3
Conference Finals:
Best-of-3
WNBA Finals:
Best-of-5
                 
E1 Atlanta 1
E4 Chicago 2
E4 Chicago 2
Eastern Conference
E2 Indiana 1
E2 Indiana 2
E3 Washington 0
E4 Chicago 0
W1 Phoenix 3
W1 Phoenix 2
W4 Los Angeles 0
W1 Phoenix 2
Western Conference
W2 Minnesota 1
W2 Minnesota 2
W3 San Antonio 0

2013 season

There were 12 teams in the league. For the playoffs, the four teams with the best record in each conference were seeded one to four.

Conference Semi-Finals
Best-of-3
Conference Finals
Best-of-3
WNBA Finals
Best-of-5
                 
E1 Chicago 0
E4 Indiana 2
E4 Indiana 0
Eastern Conference
E2 Atlanta 2
E2 Atlanta 2
E3 Washington 1
E2 Atlanta 0
W1 Minnesota 3
W1 Minnesota 2
W4 Seattle 0
W1 Minnesota 2
Western Conference
W3 Phoenix 0
W2 Los Angeles 1
W3 Phoenix 2

2012 season

There were 12 teams in the league. For the playoffs, the four teams with the best record in each conference were seeded one to four.

Conference Semi-Finals
Best-of-3
Conference Finals
Best-of-3
WNBA Finals
Best-of-5
                 
E1 Connecticut 2
E4 New York 0
E1 Connecticut 1
Eastern Conference
E2 Indiana 2
E2 Indiana 2
E3 Atlanta 1
E2 Indiana 3
W1 Minnesota 1
W1 Minnesota 2
W4 Seattle 1
W1 Minnesota 2
Western Conference
W2 Los Angeles 0
W2 Los Angeles 2
W3 San Antonio 0

2011 season

There were 12 teams in the league. For the playoffs, the four teams with the best record in each conference were seeded one to four.

Conference Semi-Finals
Best-of-3
Conference Finals
Best-of-3
WNBA Finals
Best-of-5
                 
E1 Indiana 2
E4 New York 1
E1 Indiana 1
Eastern Conference
E3 Atlanta 2
E2 Connecticut 0
E3 Atlanta 2
E3 Atlanta 0
W1 Minnesota 3
W1 Minnesota 2
W4 San Antonio 1
W1 Minnesota 2
Western Conference
W3 Phoenix 0
W2 Seattle 1
W3 Phoenix 2

2010 season

There are 12 teams in the league. For the playoffs, the four teams with the best record in each conference are seeded one to four. Starting in 2010, the first two rounds changed to a 1-1-1 format, with the higher-seeded team hosting games 1 & 3.

Conference Semi-Finals
Best-of-3
Conference Finals
Best-of-3
WNBA Finals
Best-of-5
                 
E1 Washington 0
E4 Atlanta 2
E4 Atlanta 2
Eastern Conference
E2 New York 0
E2 New York 2
E3 Indiana 1
E4 Atlanta 0
W1 Seattle 3
W1 Seattle 2
W4 Los Angeles 0
W1 Seattle 2
Western Conference
W2 Phoenix 0
W2 Phoenix 2
W3 San Antonio 0

2009 season

There are 13 teams in the league. For the playoffs, the four teams with the best record in each conference are seeded one to four.

Conference Semi-Finals
Best-of-3
Conference Finals
Best-of-3
WNBA Finals
Best-of-5
                 
E1 Indiana 2
E4 Washington 0
E1 Indiana 2
Eastern Conference
E3 Detroit 1
E2 Atlanta 0
E3 Detroit 2
E1 Indiana 2
W1 Phoenix 3
W1 Phoenix 2
W4 San Antonio 1
W1 Phoenix 2
Western Conference
W3 Los Angeles 1
W2 Seattle 1
W3 Los Angeles 2

2008 season

There were 14 teams in the league. For the playoffs, the four teams with the best record in each conference were seeded one to four.

Conference Semi-Finals
Best-of-3
Conference Finals
Best-of-3
WNBA Finals
Best-of-5
                 
E1 Detroit 2
E4 Indiana 1
E1 Detroit 2
E3 New York 1
E2 Connecticut 1
E3 New York 2
E1 Detroit 3
W1 San Antonio 0
W1 San Antonio 2
W4 Sacramento 1
W1 San Antonio 2
W3 Los Angeles 1
W2 Seattle 1
W3 Los Angeles 2

2007 season

There were 13 teams in the league. For the playoffs, the four teams with the best record in each conference were seeded one to four.

Conference Semi-Finals
Best-of-3
Conference Finals
Best-of-3
WNBA Finals
Best-of-5
                 
E1 Detroit 2
E4 New York 1
E1 Detroit 2
E2 Indiana 1
E2 Indiana 2
E3 Connecticut 1
E1 Detroit 2
W1 Phoenix 3
W1 Phoenix 2
W4 Seattle 0
W1 Phoenix 2
W2 San Antonio 0
W2 San Antonio 2
W3 Sacramento 1

2006 season

There were 14 teams in the league. For the playoffs, the four teams with the best record in each conference were seeded one to four.

Conference Semi-Finals
Best-of-3
Conference Finals
Best-of-3
WNBA Finals
Best-of-5
                 
E1 Connecticut 2
E4 Washington 0
E1 Connecticut 1
E2 Detroit 2
E2 Detroit 2
E3 Indiana 0
E2 Detroit 3
W2 Sacramento 2
W1 Los Angeles 2
W4 Seattle 1
W1 Los Angeles 0
W2 Sacramento 2
W2 Sacramento 2
W3 Houston 0

2005 season

There were 13 teams in the league. For the playoffs, the four teams with the best record in each conference were seeded one to four.

Conference Semi-Finals
Best-of-3
Conference Finals
Best-of-3
WNBA Finals
Best-of-5
                 
E1 Connecticut 2
E4 Detroit 0
E1 Connecticut 2
E2 Indiana 0
E2 Indiana 2
E3 New York 0
E1 Connecticut 1
W1 Sacramento 3
W1 Sacramento 2
W4 Los Angeles 0
W1 Sacramento 2
W3 Houston 0
W2 Seattle 1
W3 Houston 2

2004 season

There were 13 teams in the league. For the playoffs, the four teams with the best record in each conference were seeded one to four.

Conference Semi-Finals
Best-of-3
Conference Finals
Best-of-3
WNBA Finals
Best-of-3
                 
E1 Connecticut 2
E4 Washington 1
E1 Connecticut 2
E2 New York 0
E2 New York 2
E3 Detroit 1
E1 Connecticut 1
W2 Seattle 2
W1 Los Angeles 1
W4 Sacramento 2
W4 Sacramento 1
W2 Seattle 2
W2 Seattle 2
W3 Minnesota 0

2003 season

There were 14 teams in the league. For the playoffs, the four teams with the best record in each conference were seeded one to four.

Conference Semi-Finals
Best-of-3
Conference Finals
Best-of-3
WNBA Finals
Best-of-3
                 
E1 Detroit 2
E4 Cleveland 1
E1 Detroit 2
E3 Connecticut 0
E2 Charlotte 0
E3 Connecticut 2
E1 Detroit 2
W1 Los Angeles 1
W1 Los Angeles 2
W4 Minnesota 1
W1 Los Angeles 2
W3 Sacramento 1
W2 Houston 1
W3 Sacramento 2

2002 season

There were 16 teams in the league. For the playoffs, the four teams with the best record in each conference were seeded one to four.

Conference Semi-Finals
Best-of-3
Conference Finals
Best-of-3
WNBA Finals
Best-of-3
                 
E1 New York 2
E4 Indiana 1
E1 New York 2
E3 Washington 0
E2 Charlotte 0
E3 Washington 2
E1 New York 0
W1 Los Angeles 2
W1 Los Angeles 2
W4 Seattle 0
W1 Los Angeles 2
W3 Utah 0
W2 Houston 1
W3 Utah 2

2001 season

There were 16 teams in the league. For the playoffs, the four teams with the best record in each conference were seeded one to four.

Conference Semi-Finals
Best-of-3
Conference Finals
Best-of-3
WNBA Finals
Best-of-3
                 
E1 Cleveland 1
E4 Charlotte 2
E4 Charlotte 2
E2 New York 1
E2 New York 2
E3 Miami 1
E4 Charlotte 0
W1 Los Angeles 2
W1 Los Angeles 2
W4 Houston 0
W1 Los Angeles 2
W2 Sacramento 1
W2 Sacramento 2
W3 Utah 0

2000 season

There were 16 teams in the league. For the playoffs, the four teams with the best record in each conference were seeded one to four.

Conference Semi-Finals
Best-of-3
Conference Finals
Best-of-3
WNBA Finals
Best-of-3
                 
E1 New York 2
E4 Washington 0
E1 New York 2
E2 Cleveland 1
E2 Cleveland 2
E3 Orlando 1
E1 New York 0
W2 Houston 2
W1 Los Angeles 2
W4 Phoenix 0
W1 Los Angeles 0
W2 Houston 2
W2 Houston 2
W3 Sacramento 0

1999 season

There were 12 teams in the league. For the playoffs, the three teams with the best record in each conference were seeded one to three. The top seeded team in each conference got a bye for the first round.

  Conference Semi-Finals
Single Game
Conference Finals
Best-of-3
WNBA Finals
Best-of-3
                           
       
  E1 New York 2  
    E3 Charlotte 1  
E2 Detroit 54
  E3 Charlotte 60  
    E1 New York 1
  W1 Houston 2
         
       
W1 Houston 2
    W2 Los Angeles 1  
W2 Los Angeles 71
  W3 Sacramento 58  

1998 season

There were 10 teams in the league. For the playoffs, the four teams with the best record in the league were seeded one to four. Houston was switched to the Western Conference in 1998 so two Western Conference teams matched up in the WNBA Finals.

Playoff Semi-Finals
Best-of-3
WNBA Finals
Best-of-3
           
W1 Houston 2
E2 Charlotte 0
W1 Houston 2
W2 Phoenix 1
W2 Phoenix 2
E1 Cleveland 1

1997 season

This was the first year of existence for the WNBA. There were only 8 teams in the league. For the playoffs, the four teams with the best record in the league were seeded one to four. Houston was in the Eastern Conference in 1997 so two Eastern Conference teams matched up in the WNBA Championship.

Playoff Semi-Finals
Single Game
WNBA Championship
Single Game
           
E1 Houston 70
E4 Charlotte 54
E1 Houston 65
E2 New York 51
W3 Phoenix 41
E2 New York 59

See also

External links

  • WNBA Playoff History
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