The Associated Press 2023 WNBA Player of the Year, Breanna Stewart.
The Associated Press 2023 WNBA Player of the Year, Breanna Stewart.@nyliberty on X

Mims' WNBA first-round playoff picks: Sun vs Lynx, Aces vs Sky, Liberty vs Mystics, Wings vs Dream

Best 2 of 3 series start tonight at 8 pm, as league hopes for Breanna Stewart vs. A'ja Wilson final.

The WNBA Playoffs start today and have the makings of the best action that the league has ever seen. While the Las Vegas Aces and New York Liberty are the favorites, there are several contenders that give cause for concern. The WNBA does reward the top seeded teams by scheduling the first two games of the opening best of three at their home court.  While that is like MLB and done for the logistics of travel, I would prefer all series to be a minimum best of five. The best team should still prevail, and it creates additional revenue opportunities. Let’s look at each matchup and the key players to watch.

The Connecticut Sun vs. Minnesota Lynx: The Sun, who lost to the Aces in the finals last year, maintain their winning tradition despite losing Jonquel Jones and Jasmine Thomas in the off season. They're the 3-seed. The Lynx set a WNBA record by being the first team in league history to make the playoffs after starting 0-6. The Sun won the regular season against the Lynx 3-1.

Player to watch: Alyssa Thomas of the Sun, set WNBA records season for most triple doubles and double-doubles. For the Lynx, Napheesa Collier averaged 21.5 points per game.

Sun favored by 9 and the total is 159.5. Game one is tonight at 8 pm.

Selection: Sun in 2.

The Las Vegas Aces vs. Chicago Sky: The Aces are the top seeded team and defeated the Sky three times in the regular season without a loss. Las Vegas averages a league high 92.8 points per game and plays outstanding defense. The revamped Sky are two years removed from being the 2021 WNBA Champion – but that was with Candace Parker and Courtney Vandersloot.

Players to watch: A’ja Wilson of the Aces was the 2022 MVP and defensive player of the year. Kahleah Copper of the Sky can score on all three levels. She averaged 22.3 points against the Aces, an increase of 4 points over her season average.

Aces favored by 16 in game one and the total is 171. Game one is tonight at 10 pm.

Selection: Aces in 2.

The New York Liberty vs. Washington Mystics: The Liberty finished as the 2nd seed after losing to the Mystics on the final day of the season. The teams were 2-2 during the regular season. New York has won 13 of their last 15 regular season games. The Mystics have been decimated by injuries but have found a way to remain competitive. If not for the loss of several key players throughout the season, Washington would have been a top team.

Players to watch: For the Liberty, it's 2023 AP Player of the Year Breanna Stewart, who has elevated her game after having won championships with the Seattle Storm. For the Mystics it's Elena Delle Donne and Natasha Cloud. Delle Donne scores 16.7 points per game and shoots 39.3% from 3-point range. Cloud averaged 10 assists in her final 3 regular season games and is a strong defender at the guard position.

Liberty is favored by 9 in game one and the total is 162.5. Game one is Friday, Sept. 15 at 7:30 pm.

Selection: Liberty in 3.

The Dallas Wings vs. Atlanta Dream: The Wings won the 4th seed in the regular season and were 3-0 against the Dream. The Wings were 11-9 at home and have been eliminated in the first round of the WNBA playoffs the last two seasons. The Dream return to the playoffs for the first time since 2018.

Players to watch: Arike Ogunbowale of the Wings averaged over 26 points against the Dream. Rhyne Howard of Atlanta was the 2022 Rookie of the year. Howard is averaging 17 points per game.

Wings are favored by 6.5 and the total is 169.5 in game one. Game one is Friday, Sept. 15 at 9:30 pm.

Selection: Wings are high scoring but erratic at home. They have held the Dream to under 40% from the field in each game. Wings in 3.

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram during the WNBA playoffs.

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