Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The WNBA changes its playoff format to a more traditional bracket

The WNBA is changing its playoff format to a more traditional bracket.

The league announced Thursday that the postseason will consist of three rounds – best-of-three games for the first round and best-of-five games for the latter ones – beginning this summer. Overall the top eight teams will make it to the playoffs.

“We have been evaluating various playoff formats over the past 12 months, and the new playoff format being announced today will allow fans to connect with all eight championship contenders from the start of the season alongside all of the league’s best teams and top stars. Will help. Exciting, involved in the first round of action,” WNBA commissioner Kathy Engelbert said in a statement.

The league adopted a playoff structure in 2016 consisting of single-elimination games in the opening two rounds and semi-final byes to the top two teams. While the league would lose one round of the playoffs under the new format, going from four to three, it would gain more games using a series structure.

“After important discussions with our competition committee and a playoff subcommittee formed last year, it was clear that the single-elimination games of the former format created a winning and advance level of enthusiasm for the start of the post-season, the new best- The off-three series format will provide additional opportunities to build and showcase rivalries, with all playoff-qualified teams participating,” Engelbert said.

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In the new format, the No. 1 seed will take on the eighth seeded team in the opening round. The winner of that series will be seeded fourth or fifth in the semi-finals. On the other side of the bracket, the No. 3 seed will play the sixth seeded team and will take on the second seeded No. 7. Those two winners will play in the semi-finals.

“Really excited to take our league to all series,” said Connecticut Sun coach Kurt Miller. “Ultimately this is where we want to be. Even with the bottom line there is growth.”

The higher seeded will host the first two matches of the best-of-three series. If necessary, the lower seed will host the third game. This would potentially save leagues time and money on travel rather than going with a more traditional format, where teams alternate home games.

The semifinal and final series will remain unchanged from the previous format, hosting the first two games of higher seeding and a deciding fifth game if necessary.

Chicago defeated fifth-seeded Phoenix last month to win its first WNBA championship as the No. 6 seed.


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