Soon after a historic 2021 year for the WNBA, the ’22 regular-season agenda seems to be to mark a new period for the league.
Coming off its most-viewed period due to the fact 2008 with documents set in items profits and social media engagement, the WNBA is searching to capitalize off its soaring popularity. Enthusiasts will have much more prospects to enjoy their most loved crew contend through the normal period as the league has determined to enhance the range of game titles to 36, up from 32 past year. The Commissioner’s Cup competition also helps make a return.
Let us choose a seem at some of the just can’t-pass up WNBA game titles this upcoming year, which features playoff rematches in Could and July, and a previous franchise star’s return to Los Angeles.
Sparks at Sky: May well 6, 2021
Immediately after an ankle harm prompted Candace Parker to miss out on all a few online games against her former group final time, let’s cross our fingers that we’ll be in a position to see this marquee matchup on opening working day with each groups healthy.
Thoughts will unquestionably be functioning wild on both equally sides. Before the video game even receives underway, Nneka Ogwumike and the Sparks will have to bear witness to their previous franchise participant getting her next ring in a various uniform throughout the Sky’s championship ceremony. For Los Angeles, winning the contest would be a massive phase in eradicating any lingering ache from Parker’s departure. It could also be the begin of a bounceback campaign for a storied franchise that shockingly skipped the playoffs last season.
Chicago will be determined to claim its first victory over the Sparks in just about two decades, as Los Angeles swept the year sequence last year. For Parker in specific, actively playing in entrance of her household group should be a a lot more welcoming ecosystem than a hostile L.A. crowd. A victory against her former team would undoubtedly necessarily mean far more to her than the common frequent-season activity.
Mercury at Storm: Could 14, 2021
One particular could argue that the 2021 WNBA second-spherical contest concerning the Storm and Mercury was 1 of the most thrilling matchups in league playoff heritage.
Phoenix took a 85–80 overtime victory in excess of the Storm last season in what was thought of an upset by most folks, even without previous MVP Breanna Stewart in the lineup. The back again-and-forth contest posed a lot of questions, the greatest 1 staying no matter if it was the past time we would get to see two of the WNBA’s all-time greats—Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi—compete towards each individual other.
Also, if Stewart were in a position to compete, would the final result have been distinct?
If this was the previous time we acquired to see Bird and Taurasi go head-to-head, it was a fantastic way to complete one particular of the league’s most storied rivalries. Nevertheless, WNBA admirers have been clamoring all offseason prolonged for these UConn teammates to operate it back one particular more time. One a lot more rematch in between the two players would certainly provide us with yet another common activity on our hands.
If the Mercury can pull this 1 out with a healthier Storm team, it could silence critics who claimed that a entire Seattle roster would’ve set this 1 away.
Mercury at Sky: May 31, 2021
The usual “regular-season rematch of a championship game” might appear like a cliché, but both equally the Sky and Mercury will be circling this sport on their calendars as a ought to-gain.
This one will also be a incredibly emotional recreation for the two teams. The last time Phoenix was at Wintrust Arena, it left without a championship in hand. Though the Mercury will be inspired to enact revenge from its Finals defeat, they will have to do so with a new mentor subsequent the departure of Sandy Brondello.
Also, if Diana Tarusai plans on returning for an 18th period (and she’s informed SI‘s Ben Pickman she does), this might be one particular of the previous times we get to see 1 of the league’s all-time greats engage in in a substantial-stakes regular-season matchup like this a single.
Solar at Aces: May 31, 2021
Both the Aces and Solar arrived into the 2021 postseason as championship favorites but were being stopped shy of a title.
The Solar, led by league MVP Jonquel Jones and Most Enhanced Player Brionna Jones, had just one of the franchise’s greatest standard seasons at any time and were a challenging out for the Mercury, whose underdog marketing campaign spoiled Connecticut’s historic operate.
As for the Aces, the franchise came off a 2020 WNBA Finals physical appearance in the Wubble and was hunting to declare its first-at any time title in 2021. But soon after a different marvelous common year, the Aces were being convincingly defeated by the Sky in only four game titles.
Coming off upsets last year, both equally groups ought to truly feel as if they have a little something to establish this time, and this sport will be a massive early-period take a look at for every crew in its quest for a championship. The matchup between Aces star A’ja Wilson and Jones will be a wonderful fight concerning two of the league’s ideal forwards.
Mercury at Liberty: July 31, 2021
This contest will be a rematch of the 2021 WNBA playoffs’ initially round, wherever the Liberty astonished many by supplying the Mercury a run for their dollars, virtually knocking out a single of the a lot more knowledgeable and proficient playoff contenders. But New York misplaced, 83–82.
Even so, if the Liberty can retain the very same roster this 12 months, it would not be astonishing if they knock off Phoenix with their capability to shoot from downtown. Betnijah Laney and Sabrina Ionescu are a duo who have proved to elevate their performances in big game titles, and their youthful core appears to only continue to get much better.
But the Mercury have a key edge down very low with Brittney Griner, and the Liberty never have any individual who can seriously slow her down. She scored 16 details and notched 10 rebounds in Phoenix’s playoff victory last season, and if Skylar Diggins-Smith and Sophie Cunningham (41 combined factors in the win) can provide the exact scoring output, Phoenix must have a respectable possibility of pulling this just one out.
Additional WNBA Protection:
• Where by Will the Mercury Go Without having Sandy Brondello?
• Liberty Part Ways With Mentor Walt Hopkins After Two Seasons
• Report: Cheryl Reeve to Be Upcoming U.S. Women’s National Basketball Workforce Mentor
• Candace Parker on 2016 Olympics Snub: ‘I Will not Assume Geno Preferred Me on the Team’