Must see: Peddy hits buzzer-beating three-point dagger to knock off defending champs
The first round of the WNBA playoffs delivered on the excitement with two single-elimination games that had the No. 7 seed Connecticut Sun downing the No. 6 Chicago Sky 94-81 in the first game before the Phoenix Mercury outduelled the Washington Mystics 85-84 on a buzzer beater.
The second round of the playoffs will feature another pair of single-elimination games as the No. 3 seed Los Angeles Sparks will take on the Sun with the No. 4 Minnesota Lynx set to face off against the Mercury.
The winners will move on to the semifinals, where they will battle it out against either the No. 1 seed Las Vegas Aces or No. 2 Seattle Storm.
No. 4 Lynx vs. No. 5 Mercury
Finishing fourth overall, the Lynx had a strong season going 14-8, even though six-time All-Star Sylvia Fowles was limited to just seven games this year due to a calf injury. Before her injury, Fowles was averaging 14.6 points per game and 9.7 rebounds per game.
Even without Fowles, a number of young players have shone this season for the Lynx. Crystal Dangerfield is the leading candidate for best rookie after a season where she averaged 16.2 PPG (best on the Lynx, second among rookies) and 3.6 assists per game (second among rookies). She started 19 of 21 games this season.
Canadian Bridget Carleton is another player who took a step forward in her second WNBA season. After appearing in just eight games in her rookie year, she played all 22 games this season with 15 starts. She recorded career-highs in PPG (6.6), assists (2.5) and rebounds (3.5). Carleton netted a career-high 25 points against the New York Liberty on Aug. 5.
Reigning WNBA rookie of the year Napheesa Collier followed up with another strong season in 2020 with 16.1 PPG, 9 RPG (tied for second in the league) and 3.3 APG.
The Lynx will face the Mercury, who are coming off a chaotic first round matchup against the Mystics. After being down most of the game, the Mercury woke up in the fourth quarter with Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith coming alive.
After both teams traded the lead in the fourth, the Mercury were down by two with just under six seconds left on the clock. With less then a second to go, Shey Peddy was the hero for Phoenix, draining the buzzer beater from three to send the Mercury to the second round.
Taurasi and Diggins-Smith would finish the game with 23 and 24 points respectively with Peddy and Kia Vaughn chipping in with 12 each. It was a game where the Mercury never led until under five minutes left in the fourth quarter after going on a 17-0 run.
The Lynx and Mercury are 1-1 against each other this season, with Minnesota getting the upper hand in the first game 90-80 and Phoenix taking the second game 83-79.
The winner will face the Aces in the semifinals.
No. 3 Sparks vs. No. 7 Sun
For the second consecutive year, the Sparks locked up the WNBA’s third seed. They lost in the semifinals in 2019, getting swept by the Sun.
Leading the way for the Sparks this year is two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker, who enjoyed another strong season. She recorded 14.7 PPG, 9.7 RPG (first in the league) and 4.6 APG. Parker was recently awarded with her third Peak Performer award in rebounding.
Alongside Parker having a strong season is Chelsea Gray, who registered 14 PPG, 3.7 RPG and 5.3 APG. Both players started all 22 games in the bubble this season.
In the first round matchup against the Sky, Alyssa Thomas had a dominant performance for the Sun as she recorded a game-high 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. Her 10 offensive rebounds are a new WNBA postseason record.
DeWanna Bonner also had a strong game in the first round with 23 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. The Sky struggled to defend against both players all game long.
Connecticut is 0-2 against the Sparks this season. The winner will take on the Storm in the next round.