From 2016-2021, the WNBA playoffs used two rounds of single-elimination games. The first round featured the postseason's bottom four seeds (Nos. 5-8), with the two winners advancing to another single elimination round against the third and fourth-seeded clubs. It was exciting and dramatic, but the early-round win-or-go-home format severely hampered the possibility for tweaks and game preparation that you see over the course of a series. 

The WNBA Board of Governors approved changes beginning with the 26th season of the WNBA, the eight teams with the greatest winning percentages over a 36-game season, regardless of conference, will qualify for the playoffs and be seeded based on their record. All eight playoff teams will compete in a first-round bracket-style matchup of four best-of-three series.

When do the WNBA Playoffs start?

The 2024 WNBA schedule has not been announced yet. Based on last year schedule, the estimated start for the 2024 WNBA playoffs is on the 2nd week of September. This will be the 28th WNBA postseason.

How many teams make the WNBA playoffs?

The WNBA playoff schedule will be released after the WNBA regular season ends. Teams with the top eight win-loss records will make the playoffs. If two or more teams are tied in the final standings, the league would employ the following tiebreaker rules – in order -- to determine the higher seed:

First tiebreaker -- The team with the higher winning percentage in head-to-head games involving tied teams.

Second tiebreaker (if necessary) -- The team with the higher winning percentage against all teams with a .500 or better record at the end of the season.

Third tiebreaker (if necessary) -- The team with the greater point differential in head-to-head games involving tied teams.

Fourth tiebreaker (if necessary) – The team with the better point differential in all games.

Fifth tiebreaker (if necessary) -- A coin toss (or draw of lots, if at least three teams are still tied after the first four tiebreakers fail).

In the WNBA’s 26-year history to date, the league has never had to use a coin toss to determine any team’s playoff future.

WNBA Playoffs Format Explained

The WNBA playoffs are broken up into three rounds: the first round, semifinals, and the WNBA Finals. Round 1 is a best-of-3 series, played in a 2-1 homecourt format. The higher seed hosts Games 1 and 2, while the lower seed hosts Game 3.

The semifinals and WNBA Finals are both best-of-5 series, played in a 2-2-1 homecourt format. The higher seed hosts Games 1, 2, and 5, while the lower seed hosts Games 3 and 4.

How do the WNBA Playoffs work?

Teams in the WNBA playoff bracket are seeded first through eighth based on their regular-season records. The WNBA playoff format begins with No. 1 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. 3 vs. No. 6, and No. 4 vs. No. 5. A team’s placement in its own conference doesn’t play a role in determining its playoff opponent. WNBA playoff seeding is determined by leaguewide win-loss records alone.

How many games are in the WNBA Playoffs?

The maximum number of potential games in the WNBA playoffs is 27, which would only happen if every series went the distance. The minimum number of games in a playoff year is 17, which would only happen if every series ended in a sweep.

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