WNBA Weekly Wrap: Wings soar to the playoffs, Sun secure top seed

Published September 13, 2021, 4:00 PMMiguel Flores

The Dallas Wings punch their ticket to the playoffs, leaving the Washington Mystics, LA Sparks, and New York Liberty fighting for the eighth and final spot.

Jonquel Jones of the Connecticut Sun continues to make her case for this season's MVP.

Game of the week

The Dallas Wings could have given up last Sunday. They were down 13 in the fourth quarter to a determined visiting New York Liberty squad. Their main guns just didn't have it going. They could have chalked up the loss and hoped for the best entering the final week of the regular season.

But this young Dallas squad just refused to go down. After New York took a 70-57 lead with a little over nine minutes left in the game, Dallas scored the next 13 points to force a tie at 5:01. A defensive struggle followed by Satou Sabally lifting the Wings from the dead with a 3-pointer gave them the lead, 75-74, with under two minutes left.

Sabally struck again, taking advantage of a semi-transition opportunity to give Dallas a 77-74 cushion. After Natasha Howard replied with a lay-up of her own, New York had a shot to take the game with under 10 seconds to go. They found Sabrina Ionescu free for a floater, but Allisha Gray came swooping in for the game-saving block.

The Wings (13-17) clinched a spot in the playoffs with the win, and it was thanks in large part to off-the-bench spark plug Marina Mabrey, who paced them with 21 points. The Liberty, on the other hand, are left fighting for the last spot in the playoffs.

Team in the spotlight

Everybody was talking about the Phoenix Mercury until they got done up by the Connecticut Sun.

The Mercury were riding a franchise-best 10-game winning streak into Sunday. They were hot, but the Sun were way hotter. The game went as usual for Connecticut; get the Joneses going, lock up the middle, and have one of your multitude of weapons lead your offense. In their 76-67 win over Phoenix, Jasz Thomas was the Sun's flamethrower of choice as she scored 17 points on 55 percent shooting.

Connecticut not only took down a fellow contender on the road, they also clinched the top seed in the playoffs. They have an MVP frontrunner in Jonquel Jones and arguably the deepest lineup in the league. The race for the stop spot was really only this close because Jones missed a handful of games in the middle of the season. But really, who can stop the Sun?

Big-time ballers

The start of the week was rough, but Tina Charles eventually got back to B.A.U. (Beasting, As Usual) by the end of the week. Limited to just four points in a loss to Seattle, Charles was unstoppable in Washington’s next two games.

The Atlanta Dream had nothing for Charles as she went for 26 points and 16 rebounds against them. Early Monday morning, Charles got the day started right with another double-double of 31 points and 10 rebounds in an all-important matchup against the Chicago Sky that kept their playoff hopes alive. Charles now has to go through her former team in the New York Liberty on Saturday to secure that final spot in the postseason.

MVP favorite Jonquel Jones also continued her all-around brilliance this week -- another undefeated slate for her Sun. She had an 11-7-5 line against Dallas, 21-14-2 against Los Angeles, and 12-16-2 against Phoenix. For the season, Jones is averaging 19.6 points on a 57.4 percent effective field goal rate with 11.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists. She’s not only the league's most improved, she's also its most valuable.

Did you see that?

Three WNBA luminaries got inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend: Val Ackerman, Yolanda Griffith, and Lauren Jackson.

All three represent the start of the WNBA – the foundational years that set up the last decade of transcendent basketball and activism that has defined the league. As the years go by, it would be interesting to see which of the league’s stars of the past decade will get inducted and how they will be welcomed into the Hall.