The three-time WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury on Thursday clinched the club’s fourth consecutive playoff berth, seventh in the last eight seasons, and 11th in the franchise’s 20-year history. Phoenix secured the final spot in the 2016 WNBA Playoffs on Thursday by virtue of Washington’s loss in Atlanta.
Although the Mercury is the final team to clinch—joining the Minnesota Lynx, Los Angeles Sparks, New York Liberty, Atlanta Dream, Chicago Sky, Indiana Fever and Seattle Storm—Phoenix can still finish as high as sixth with one regular season game remaining.
The 2016 postseason marks the debut of the WNBA’s new playoff format, which features berths for the top eight overall records league-wide, rather than the top four from the Western Conference and Eastern Conference, respectively. The first two rounds are single-elimination; in Round 1, seeds 5-8 play for a spot in Round 2 against seeds 3-4. The Round 2 winners face the top two seeds in a best-of-five semifinal series, and the semifinal winners will meet in the best-of-five WNBA Finals. A complete breakdown is below:
2016 WNBA PLAYOFFS
ROUND 1: Seeds 5-8 play; 5 hosts 8, 6 hosts 7. Single elimination
ROUND 2: Seeds 3-4 host Round 1 winners; 3 hosts worst remaining record, 4 hosts best. Single elimination
ROUND 3: Seeds 1-2 host Round 2 winners; 1 hosts worst remaining record, 2 hosts best. Best-of-five series.
ROUND 4: WNBA Finals. Best-of-five series
**If the Mercury is seeded 6, Phoenix will host Round 1 on WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21st.
**If Phoenix is 7 or 8, the Mercury will open on the road on Sept. 21st.