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With just a few days to go in the 2022 WNBA regular season, we've had dramatic late twists at both the top and bottom of the playoff picture. The Aces beat the Sky on Thursday to take over first place via a tiebreaker, while four teams are tied for seventh place and fighting for the two remaining spot. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Sparks have joined the Indiana Fever in the eliminated category. 

As a reminder, the WNBA has once again changed its playoff system. While the top eight teams will still make the playoffs, there are no more byes. Instead, every team will begin play in the first round with a standard bracket format that features the No. 1 seed vs. the No. 8 seed, the No. 2 seed vs. the No. 7 seed, the No. 3 seed vs. the No. 6 seed and the No. 4 seed vs. the No. 5 seed. The bracket will not be re-seeded after the first round. 

The first-round matchups will be best-of-three series, with the higher seed playing Games 1 and 2 at home, and the lower seed hosting Game 3. The semifinals and finals will both be best-of-five series with a 2-2-1 format, which means the higher seeds will host Games 1, 2 and 5, while the lower seeded team will host Games 3 and 4. 

Current standings

1. Las Vegas Aces (25-10) -- Playoff spot clinched

2. Chicago Sky (25-10) -- Playoff spot clinched

3. Connecticut Sun (24-11) -- Playoff spot clinched, position clinched

4. Seattle Storm (21-13) -- Playoff spot clinched

5. Washington Mystics (20-14) -- Playoff spot clinched

6. Dallas Wings (17-17) -- Playoff spot clinched, position clinched

7. Minnesota Lynx (14-20)

8. Atlanta Dream (14-20)

9. New York Liberty (14-20)

10. Phoenix Mercury (14-20)

11. Los Angeles Sparks (13-22) -- Eliminated

12. Indiana Fever (5-29) -- Eliminated

Note: In the event of a multi-team tie, such as there is for seventh place right now, the tiebreaker becomes the combined head-to-head record against the other teams. Thus, the order for Nos. 7-10 is Lynx (8-2), Dream (4-4), Liberty (3-5), Mercury (3-7). 

As the action continues down the stretch, here's a closer look at the playoff picture: 

Race for the No. 1 seed

1. Las Vegas Aces (25-10) -- Playoff spot clinched

  • Games remaining: 1 (vs. Storm, Sunday)
  • Tiebreakers: vs. Sky: won season series, 2-1
  • Current first-round matchup: vs. No. 8 Atlanta Dream

The Aces are back on track and also back in first place. They took down the Sky in rather comfortable fashion on Thursday to earn the tiebreaker between the clubs and extend their winning streak to three games. They still have some work to do to secure the No. 1 seed for the playoffs, however. Either a win over the Storm or a Sky loss to the Mercury will do the job.

2. Chicago Sky (25-10) -- Playoff spot clinched

  • Games remaining: 1 (at Mercury, Sunday)
  • Tiebreakers: vs. Aces: lost season series, 1-2
  • Current first-round matchup: vs. No. 7 Minnesota Lynx

The Sky have had trouble with the Aces this season, and lost to them again on Thursday night. In the process they lost the tiebreaker between the clubs and dropped down to second place in the standings for the first time since July 1. The defending champs still have hope of stealing the No. 1 seed, however, the Sky must beat the Mercury and the Aces must lose to the Storm in their respective final games. 

Sun secure third place

3. Connecticut Sun (24-11) -- Playoff spot clinched, position clinched

  • Games remaining: 1 (vs. Lynx, Sunday)
  • Tiebreakers: N/A
  • Confirmed first-round matchup: vs. 6 Dallas Wings

The Sun crushed the travel-weary Sparks for the second straight game on Thursday night. Their win, combined with the Aces' win over the Sky means the Sun are now locked into third place. Coincidentally, the only other seed that has been determined so far is the Wings in sixth. Those two teams will meet in the first round of the playoffs. 

Two teams battling for No. 4

4. Seattle Storm (21-13)

  • Games remaining: 2 (at Lynx, Friday; at Aces, Sunday)
  • Tiebreakers: vs. Mystics: won season series, 2-1
  • Current first-round matchup: vs. No. 5 Washington Mystics

5. Washington Mystics (20-14)

  • Games remaining: 2 (at Fever, Friday; vs. Fever, Sunday)
  • Tiebreakers: vs. Storm: lost season series, 1-2
  • Current first-round matchup: vs. No. 4 Seattle Storm

One of the tightest races right now is in the middle of the standings where the Storm and Mystics are going head-to-head for fourth place and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Storm picked up their biggest win of the season on Tuesday as they scored 111 points in a win over the first-place Sky. 

With two games left to play for both clubs, the Storm are now one game ahead and have the tiebreaker. That means they need just one win or one Mystics loss to clinch the No. 4 seed. The Mystics' only hope is to win out and have the Storm go 0-2. 

Wings locked into sixth

6. Dallas Wings (17-17) -- Playoff spot clinched, position clinched

  • Games remaining: 2 (at Mercury, Friday; at Sparks, Sunday)
  • Tiebreakers: N/A
  • Confirmed first-round matchup: vs. No. 3 Connecticut Sun

The Wings are going back to the playoffs, and they are locked into the No. 6 seed despite a loss to the Liberty on Wednesday night. The key now is to manage players' rest and start preparing for the Sun, which are running a league-best 8-2 over their last 10 games.

Last two spots up for grabs

7. Minnesota Lynx (14-20)

  • Games remaining: 2 (vs. Storm, Friday; at Sun, Sunday)
  • Tiebreakers: vs. Mercury: won season series, 4-0; vs. Dream: won season series, 2-1; vs. Liberty: won season series, 2-1 
  • Current first-round matchup: No. 2 Chicago Sky

The Lynx's late-season surge continued on Wednesday as they beat the Mercury for their fourth win in five games. With four teams now tied at 14-20, the Lynx have grabbed seventh place by virtue of owning the best combined head-to-head record against the four other teams at 8-2. 

8. Atlanta Dream (14-20)

  • Games remaining: 2 (vs. Liberty, Friday; at Liberty, Sunday)
  • Tiebreakers: vs. Mercury: won season series, 2-1; vs. Liberty: 1-1 in season series with two games remaining; vs. Lynx: lost season series, 1-2
  • Current first-round matchup: vs. No. 1 Las Vegas Aces

The shorthanded Dream ran out of gas in the fourth quarter on Tuesday and fell to the Aces for their second straight loss. This is not a good time for a mini losing streak, but the Dream are hanging on to eighth place by virtue of their 4-4 record against the three other teams tied at 14-20. 

9. New York Liberty (14-20)

  • Games remaining: 2 (at Dream, Friday; vs. Dream, Sunday)
  • Tiebreakers: vs. Mercury: lost season series, 1-2; vs. Dream: 1-1 in season series with two games remaining; vs. Lynx: lost season series, 1-2
  • Current first-round matchup: N/A

The Liberty got back in the win column on Wednesday with an impressive performance against the Wings that featured 50 points from their bench. Now among the four teams tied at 14-20, they sit in ninth place because they have the third-best combined head-to-head record against the other teams at 3-5. 

10. Phoenix Mercury (14-20)

  • Games remaining: 2 (vs. Wings, Friday; vs. Sky, Sunday)
  • Tiebreakers: vs. Dream: lost season series, 1-2; vs. Liberty: won season series, 2-1; vs. Lynx: lost season series, 0-4
  • Current first-round matchup: N/A

The Mercury were once again without Skylar Diggins-Smith (personal reasons) and Diana Taurasi (quad) on Wednesday, and this time they didn't have enough against the Lynx. With that defeat they dropped to 14-20, and into the four-way tie for the last two playoff berths. Their 3-7 record against the three other teams is the worst in the bunch, which means they now sit in 10th. 

Eliminated

11. Los Angeles Sparks (13-22)

After a second straight defeat to the Sun, the Sparks have now lost eight of their last nine games, which just isn't going to get it done at any point, but especially in the final month of the season. They will now miss the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1997 and 1998 -- their first two years of existence. Even worse, they don't have their first-round pick this year after trading it away in the Chennedy Carter deal. 

12. Indiana Fever (5-29)

The Fever have now lost 16 straight games and were the first team eliminated from the playoffs. With a sixth straight lottery appearance on the way, they'll be hoping for some luck with the ping pong balls to help end the worst stretch in franchise history.