WNBA Announces Postseason Dates and New Format for Conference Semifinals and Conference Finals

-- Conference series switching to 1-1-1 best-of-three format --

NEW YORK, July 29, 2010 – As teams continue to jockey for playoff positioning, the WNBA today announced dates for the first two rounds of the postseason, as well as a new format for the conference semifinals and conference finals. Semifinals games will be played Aug. 25-30 with the conference finals played Sept. 2-8. Both series will now be played in a 1-1-1 best-of-three format, with the higher-seeded teams hosting games 1 and 3. In years prior, the first two rounds were played 1-2, with the higher-seed opening on the road.

“Every team plays hard to gain competitive home-court advantage in the postseason. This change provides incentive and reward for teams who perform at the highest-level, while giving fans the opportunity to see their playoff series tip-off at home,” said WNBA President Donna Orender.

The WNBA Finals, scheduled to begin on Sept. 12, will remain a 2-2-1 best-of-five format in which the higher-seeded team will host games 1, 2, and 5. All WNBA Playoff games will be televised nationally, with ESPN2 and ABC airing up to 10 games, including all contests during the WNBA Finals. NBA TV will also air up to 12 games as part of its conference semifinals and conference finals coverage.

In the Western Conference, the Seattle Storm (21-2) has locked up the No. 1 seed, and is on pace to surpass the WNBA record for best regular season winning percentage, held by the 1998 Houston Comets (.900). The Storm is led by a pair of WNBA All-Stars, center Lauren Jackson and point guard Sue Bird. Jackson ranks second in the league in scoring (22.3 ppg) and seventh in rebounding (9.3 rpg), while Bird ranks first in the league in assists (5.6 apg).

The defending WNBA champion, Phoenix Mercury, is showing signs of returning to championship form. Phoenix is 3-2 since the All-Star break, led by league scoring leader Diana Taurasi (23.9 ppg). On three separate occasions this season, the Mercury has set new-single game scoring records, including 123 points against the Tulsa Shock and 127 points the following game against the Minnesota Lynx in a thrilling double-overtime win.