2021 WNBA Finals: What You Need to Know

Overview2020 WNBA FinalsFinals History

WNBA Finals Overview

The WNBA Playoffs 2021 will begin on September 23rd. Meanwhile October 19th is the last possible WNBA Finals 2021 date. So today, we’ll share which teams will play and where, as well as the upcoming TV schedule. We’ll also explore what the 2016 change to the playoffs format means, and reveal awesome WNBA Finals history highlights.

Early in the season, ESPN pegged Seattle Storm and the Las Vegas Aces to be in the finals this year, with Ryan Ruocco predicting Seattle as the champs, and LaChina Robinson, Mechelle Voepel, Kelly Cohen, and more, siding with Las Vegas. Meanwhile FiveThirtyEight had the Connecticut Sun pegged to win it by 55% as of September 16th. Only time will tell!

The Connecticut Sun, the Las Vegas Aces, the Seattle Storm, the Phoenix Mercury, the Minnesota Lynx, the Chicago Sky, the Dallas Wings, and the New York Liberty (their first time in the playoffs since 2017) have each clinched a 2021 Playoffs spot.

2021 WNBA Finals Playoffs TV schedule

The WNBA Playoffs schedule 2021 begins four days after the end of the season on Thursday, September 23rd. The first round games will feature the teams in fifth through eighth place in terms of overall league standings. The winning team from that series will then face the third and fourth place teams in a single elimination game.

That means this Thursday four teams will play in win-or-go-home games – ensuring every minute is must-watch TV. First, the No. 6 seed Chicago Sky will match up against the No. 7 seed Dallas Wings (8 p.m. ET on ESPN2), and then the No. 5 seed Phoenix Mercury will take on the No. 8 seed New York Liberty (10 p.m. ET on ESPN2).

The Gaming Society reports:

  • A win for the Sky means: A chance to salvage an underwhelming season. After signing Candace Parker and returning last year’s competitive core, Chicago was supposed to compete for a title. The pieces haven’t fit together, though. No. 6 seeds are 4-1 overall in the first round since the WNBA’s new playoff format.
  • A win for the Wings means: The rebuild around Arike Ogunbowale is working. Dallas is in the playoffs for the first time since 2017, after losing Liz Cambage and Skylar Diggins-Smith to forced trades. Now they have the players to compete again. No. 7 seeds are 1-4 overall in Round 1.
  • A win for the Mercury means: Brittney Griner’s MVP-caliber season lasts another day. Phoenix is by far the best team of the night, co-starred by Diggins-Smith and hopefully (fingers crossed) Diana Taurasi, who sprained her ankle on Sept. 6. No. 5 seeds are 4-1 in the opening round of the playoffs.
  • A win for the Liberty means: We’ll never say the numbers 2-20 again. New York had the second-worst record of all-time last season, and a playoff win would show a total reversal. No. 8 seeds are 1-4 in this playoff format.

Up next, the winning teams will take on the top two seeds on Sunday, before the best-of-five semifinals series begins on Tuesday. The Finals between just the last two winning teams will start on Sunday, October 10th with the last possible day of the season being Tuesday, October 19th. Here’s the WNBA Playoffs TV schedule:

2021 WNBA Playoffs Finals TV Schedule

The WNBA Finals will move up to start on October 6 or 8 if both Semifinals end in 3 or 4 games, respectively.

KEY:

  • 1 – Game to be played at Grand Canyon University Arena, Phoenix, AZ
  • 2 – Second Round doubleheader to be played at 3:00 PM ET on ABC and 5:00 PM ET on ESPN2
  • * – If Necessary
  • TBD – To Be Determined

How to watch the WNBA Playoffs

All 19 WNBA playoff games will be broadcast on either ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2. To watch the 2021 WNBA Playoffs online, you can stream every game at ESPN.com or on the ESPN app, or on the ABC live website. You can also see all the games online after they’re over by watching the recordings on WNBA League Pass. See more information on how to watch WNBA games here.

WNBA Playoffs standings 2021

The 2021 WNBA playoffs bracket has been determined, as regular season play is over. Here are the final WNBA team standings:

2021 WNBA teams in the playoffs standings

Here’s the latest news on what spots have been secured:

  • New York Liberty clinches No 8. seed with a LA and a Mystics loss. (September 19, 2021)
  • Minnesota clinches No 3. seed with a win. (September 19, 2021)
  • Las Vegas clinches No 2. seed and a double bye with a win (September 17, 2021)
  • Seattle Storm clinches a single bye with a win. (September 17, 2021)
  • Minnesota Lynx clinches a single bye with a win. (September 17, 2021)
  • Indiana Fever is eliminated with a loss. (September 12, 2021)
  • Connecticut Sun clinches No. 1 seed with a win (and already had a double bye). (September 11, 2021)
  • Dallas Wings clinches a playoff spot with a win. (September 11, 2021)
  • Las Vegas Aces clinches a single bye with a Phoenix loss. (September 11, 2021)
  • Atlanta Dream is eliminated with a loss. (September 10, 2021)
  • Chicago Sky clinches a playoff spot with a win. (September 5, 2021)
  • Minnesota Lynx clinches a playoff spot with a win. (August 31, 2021)
  • Seattle Storm clinches a playoff spot with a win. (August 22, 2021)

WNBA Playoffs bracket 2021

Here’s how the final WNBA 2021 playoffs bracket plays out so far. Tune in on September 23rd to catch the round one action!

2021 WNBA Playoffs Bracket

So how do the WNBA Finals work?

The WNBA Finals are the championship series of the Women’s National Basketball Association. The series is the end of the league’s postseason schedule each fall, and has been played every WNBA season in history since 1997. Though, the series was named the WNBA Championship until 2002.

WNBA Playoff format 2021

The playoff format was updated in 2016, and is now as follows:

WNBA Playoffs: It begins with the single-elimination playoffs. Each year, the eight teams with the highest winning percentages, regardless of conference, qualify for the playoffs and are seeded based on their record. There are four playoff rounds. And the top two seeds receive a bye to the semifinals (third round), and the third and fourth seeds receive a bye to the second round.

WNBA Semifinals: The semifinals feature a best-of-five format, with the number one overall seed playing the lowest remaining seed and the number two overall seed meeting the remaining team. 

WNBA Finals: The winner of the WNBA Finals is determined through a 2–2–1 format. The first, second, and fifth games of the series are played at the arena of the team who earned home court advantage by having the better record during the regular season.

Though not everyone is pleased with the format reported Khristina Williams for Girls Talk Sports TV. When she asked Sue Bird about the current playoff format back in 2020, Sue shared:

“You know it’s tough…What people do need to understand is that the format was changed for a lot of reasons and one was money. I think teams were losing money in those first couple rounds, because of the turn around…I’m sure there’s a whole bunch of reasons I don’t even know but it was a situation.”

I think when you’ve worked that hard to get a high seed like that, to only have one chance – of course I agree with everybody. If we could have that be a three-game series or something like that that would be great…So I kind of see both sides. I do think the single elimination is exciting. I think it’s great for fans – everybody loves a do-or-die situation. But I can imagine being that 3rd or 4th seed and not being too thrilled.”

“I actually feel that 8 teams making the playoffs is maybe too much. It’s 8 out of 12, that’s like a huge percentage of teams making it. So if there could be a way to change it up and have maybe longer series instead of…I don’t know.”

It’s not just players that dislike the current format. It is coaches too, and some of them have ideas on exactly how it could be improved. “We need to go to a 3-5-5 [series] format,” Phoenix Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said, reports Mechelle Voepel for ESPN. “So hopefully that will happen next year.”

2021 WNBA Finals Championship odds tracking

During the 2021 WNBA season championship odds have evolved. Initially, the defending champion Seattle Storm (+175) opened as the favorites to win again at most books, with last year’s runners-up the Las Vegas Aces (+400) placed just behind them.

As of the Olympic break, the teams whose odds had increased the most include the Aces, Connecticut Sun, Dallas Wings, Minnesota Lynx, and New York Liberty. And the Washington Mystics and Los Angeles Sparks have taken the biggest tumbles in the odds, but, as Her Hoops Stats shares: the Storm have been an under-the-radar addition to this group as well. Explore the ways WNBA Championship probabilities have fluctuated so far.

It’s fairly common for one the top two teams seeded in the WNBA playoffs to win. DraftKings had the Aces as the favorite in August. Though, Kevin Pelton thought the outlook looked brightest for the Sun. As of September 20th, the Sun are now the consensus favorites at all books offering odds. And the Connecticut Sun have not lost a game since August 12th. For more on the best odds, see the latest WNBA Championship odds tracker.

Who won the WNBA Championship 2021?

The results are to be determined, as the Championships have not started yet. Though, since the WNBA began its current playoff format in 2016, nine of the 10 Finals teams were top-two seeds. There are a few reasons why, Her Hoops Stats reports:

  1. First, the two teams at the top of the regular season standings are generally the best teams in the league.
  2. Second, the teams are guaranteed home-court advantage until the Finals (though, the home-court advantage is significantly less of a factor this season).
  3. Third, and most importantly, the teams receive a double bye into the semifinals and avoid the chaotic two rounds of single-elimination basketball. 

See WNBA Finals interesting facts

  • The number one seed has reached the WNBA Finals in each of the last 4 years, winning 3 times.
  • Western Conference teams have won 10 of the most recent 12 WNBA championships.
  • Only 4 Eastern Conference teams have won the WNBA Championship since 1997.
  • The Houston Comets, the Seattle Storm, and the Minnesota Lynx are the only teams to each win 4 championships.
  • Discover more WNBA facts here.

Explore WNBA Finals history

Discover the most interesting aspects of each finals matchup from 2020 through the very first 1997 including the biggest upsets, the longest series, and cool highlights. For example, did you know 2011 was the start of the Lynx dynasty?

2020 WNBA Finals

These Finals were unlike any other before. The series occurred in the Wubble in Florida due to a global pandemic. It also resulted in the Seattle Storm tying the Houston Comets and Minnesota Lynx in most WNBA championships at four

Which WNBA teams were in the finals in 2020?

The 2020 WNBA finals took place in the Wubble in Bradenton Florida. The Las Vegas Aces and Seattle Storm made it to the Finals.

Who won the WNBA Championship in 2020?

The Seattle Storm won in a three game sweep. The Seattle Storm won their second WNBA championship in three seasons, taking down the Las Vegas Aces 92-59. It’s the fourth title in franchise history for the Storm, who also won in 2004, 2010, and 2018. Seattle’s core group that won the 2018 championship led by Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird, and Jewell Loyd remained intact for the 2020 season. As a result, the Storm joined Minnesota and Houston as the only franchises to win four championships.

Who was the WNBA Finals MVP in 2020?

Breanna Stewart was the Finals MVP averaging 28.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. She had an incredible game 1 where scored a whopping 37 points and grabbed 15 boards. 

What were the 2020 WNBA Finals TV ratings?

Despite most sports viewership suffering due to the pandemic, the WNBA was able to gain viewers in 2020. The Aces vs Storm three-game series averaged 440,000 viewers, up 15 percent from 2019’s WNBA Finals viewership of 381,000.

ESPN‘s coverage of the Seattle Storm’s 92-59 title-clinching victory over the Las Vegas Aces in game three drew an average 570,000 viewers, the US broadcaster has confirmed.

2019 WNBA Finals

The 2019 Finals was played by the Washington Mystics and Connecticut Sun. It resulted in the Mystics winning in five games, and winning their first WNBA championship. 

2018

In 2018, the Seattle Storm swept the Washington Mystics 3-0. They won in dominant fashion winning by double digits in two of the three games. 

2017

The 2017 WNBA Finals was a five game classic. It was a rematch of the 2016 Finals, resulting in the Minnesota Lynx defeating the Los Angeles Sparks and avenging their 2016 loss. 

2016

The first Minnesota Lynx versus LA Sparks Finals matchup took place in 2016 and ended with the LA Sparks winning their third title. This was Candace Parker’s first championship and she won Finals MVP. 

2015

The Minnesota Lynx won the 2015 championship against the Indiana Fever. The series went the distance ending in five games and Sylvia Fowles won the Finals MVP.

2014

The Phoenix Mercury and the Chicago Sky participated in the WNBA Finals in 2014. It was the first appearance Chicago Sky had in the WNBA Finals and they lost to the Mercury in a three game sweep. 

2013

The Minnesota Lynx won in a sweep against the Atlanta Dream winning their second WNBA championship in dominant fashion. Maya Moore was named the MVP.  

2012

The Indiana Fever defeated the Minnesota Lynx dynasty in four games to win their first and only WNBA championship. It was only the second time an Eastern Conference team won a championship at the time. 

2011

The Minnesota Lynx swept the Atlanta Dream to win their first championship and began the Lynx Dynasty. The Lynx dominated the Dream not just in the Finals, but in the regular season going 2-0 in regular season play and winning all five games they had against the Dream in 2011. 

2010

The Seattle Storm swept the Atlanta Dream to win their second WNBA title. This was the first heartbreaking defeat for the Dream in the WNBA Finals. 

2009

Diana Taurasi won her second championship and her first Finals MVP when the Phoenix Mercury defeated the Indiana fever 3-2. The matchup was between the top two teams during the regular season so it was nice that both top teams got to play each other in the Finals. 

2008

The Detroit Shock swept the San Antonio Stars winning their third WNBA championship. They did so in dominant fashion beating the Stars by 16 in game three. 

2007

Phoenix Mercury defeated the Detroit Shock in 2007 in five games. The game was the first time a road team won the championship on the opponent’s floor. 

2006

The Detroit Shock defeated the Sacramento Monarchs in five games to win their second title. The MVP was Deanna Nolan thanks to her 24 point performance in game five. 

2005 WNBA Finals

In 2005 the Sacramento Monarchs won their first and only WNBA title against the Connecticut Sun. The Monarchs won in four games.

2004

Seattle Storm and Connecticut Sun both made their first Finals appearances. The Storm won the series winning two out of the three games. It was the last time the WNBA Finals was a best of three series. 

2003

The Detroit/LA rivalry began in the WNBA with this 2003 WNBA Final. The Shock won in the deciding game three match winning their first WNBA title. 

2002

The Los Angeles Sparks defeated the New York Liberty to win their second WNBA title. It was also the last time a team has won back to back titles.

2001

LA Sparks secured their first WNBA title in 2001 against the Charlotte Sting. The Sparks won in dominant fashion sweeping the Sting. 

2000

The Houston Comets dynasty secures their fourth and final title against the New York Liberty. The Comets are by far the most dominant WNBA team in the history of the W. At this point in WNBA history, no one else has won a championship except the Comets!

1999

Houston Comets and the New York Liberty faced off in the Finals for the second time ever in 199. Their first matchup was in 97. The results were the same as the Houston Comets won their third title and officially became a dynasty. 

 1998

The Cheryl Miller-coached Phoenix Mercury reached the WNBA Finals and faced the Houston Comets in1998. The result was another Comets championship with Cynthia Cooper being named Finals MVP.

1997 WNBA Finals

The very first WNBA championship was played by the Houston Comets and the New York Liberty. It resulted in the Houston Comets beating the Liberty 65-51. It was the beginning of the WNBA and the start of the Houston Comets dynasty.

Enjoy the WNBA Finals 2021

There it is, a complete history of every matchup! 25 years later, the league is more popular than ever and just getting started. Learn even more about WNBA history and the WNBA’s 25th season, as well as WNBA MVPs.

Help support our coverage:

Queen Ballers Club was founded to grow the love for lady hoopers. We’re invested in lifting up women, by giving our queens the spotlight they deserve.

Please consider supporting our efforts. There are a few ways you can help:

1. Share the articles you love on social media. And follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to enjoy fascinating stories about queens.

2. Send a $5 tip to our Venmo tip jar: @megsterr.

Or our Paypal:

3. Make a purchase on Amazon by clicking links like this within our articles, which sends a few cents back our way. Every little bit counts. Thank you so much!

4. Check out our line of hooper gear for some new threads.

5. Shop DribbleUp’s smart ball to work on your game, and they’ll send us a few bucks. Same thing with Wilson gear.