WNBA playoff schedule awarded national TV spotlight with significant games on ABC

·4 min read

The WNBA postseason will have one of the largest national spotlights in its 24-season history when it comes to ABC for multiple games this fall.

The WNBA finals are scheduled to air on the major national network twice and Game 5, if necessary, will air in the prime Sunday afternoon slot. It is the first time there have been two or more finals games scheduled for ABC and the first time a Game 5 was on the network, ESPN Communications told Yahoo Sports.

The full schedule of up to 19 games was announced by ESPN on Tuesday and features four games on ABC, three on ESPN and 12 on ESPN2. The schedule represents one of the bigger national spotlights the league has experienced. Over the past four years only four postseason games in total have been on ABC with one each during the finals series.

It follows an expanded regular season schedule by the sports broadcaster that garnered historic opening weekend numbers and a wildly successful orange hoodie marketing campaign.

How do I watch the WNBA playoffs?

A'ja Wilson defends Breanna Stewart at the 3-point line.
The Seattle Storm, with Breanna Stewart, and the Las Vegas Aces, with A'ja Wilson, will lead the WNBA postseason hype. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

The WNBA playoffs begin Tuesday, Sept. 15 with two single-elimination games in the opening round. The second round, also single-elimination, will take place that Thursday. All four of those games are on ESPN2.

The postseason turns into a best-of-five series for the semifinals and finals. The semifinal games will begin Sunday, Sept. 20 with a national audience. The 1 p.m. game will be on ESPN and the 3 p.m. game will be in the prime afternoon slot on ABC.

The next two games of each series will be on ESPN2. If the semifinals go to a Game 4 it will be back on ESPN at 1 p.m. and ABC at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27 (if both go that long). Game 5s, if necessary are on ESPN2 on Sept. 29.

WNBA finals get ABC billing

The finals tip off on ESPN2 on Friday, Oct. 2. The NBA finals coincide with the WNBA this year and Game 2 is tentatively scheduled for that night on ABC. The main ESPN channel typically carries college football on Friday nights.

Game 3 will be on ESPN. Game 4 is on ESPN2, if necessary, and Game 5 will be back on flagship station ABC, if needed.

The schedule could slide up a few days if Games 4 and 5 of the semifinals are not needed, potentially pulling games out of the prime ABC spot. At least two finals games have been scheduled for ESPN2 each of the past four years.

Rebecca Lobo, LaChina Robinson, Ryan Ruocco and Pam Ward will continue to call games from the ESPN studios in Bristol, Connecticut. Holly Rowe will keep reporting from the sidelines of the wubble as the only reporter at IMG Academy.

Who is in the WNBA playoffs?

Seven of the eight teams have clinched a playoff berth as of Wednesday morning. The New York Liberty and Indiana Fever are eliminated from playoff contention.

The regular season ends on Sunday, Sept. 13 with three of the six rescheduled games after players took a day of reflection following the death of Jacob Blake. The league-leading Seattle Storm (16-3), featuring MVP candidate Breanna Stewart, and Las Vegas Aces (15-4), featuring fellow candidate A’ja Wilson, will play that day at 3 p.m. on ABC.

The Los Angeles Sparks (15-5), Minnesota Lynx (13-7), Phoenix Mercury (12-8), Chicago Sky (11-9) and Connecticut Sun (10-10) have clinched spots.

The Dallas Wings (7-12), Washington Mystics (6-13), and Atlanta Dream (5-14) are in contention for the final spot.

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