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2021 WNBA season preview: Chicago Sky schedule, key dates, odds

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The WNBA is celebrating its 25th anniversary season in style.

In anticipation of reaching the quarter-century mark, the league collaborated with Nike to release Heroine, Explorer and Rebel Edition uniforms for each team. Along with the fresh uniforms, the league is also debuting a new game ball, logo and in-season competition in the WNBA Commissioner's Cup to commemorate 25 years.

With the 2021 draft in the rearview and preseason wrapped up, the league is prepared to finally tip off. Here are some of the biggest questions surrounding the new season:

When does the WNBA season start?

The 2021 season begins off with four games on Friday, May 14. The first contest is between the Indiana Fever and New York Liberty at Barclays Center beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Then the Atlanta Dream host the Connecticut Sun at 7:30 p.m., the Minnesota Lynx host the Phoenix Mercury at 9 p.m., and the Los Angeles Sparks host the Dallas Wings at 10:30 p.m.

The four remaining teams open their season on Saturday, May 15. The Washington Mystics welcome the Chicago Sky to town at 1 p.m. before the 2020 WNBA Finals rematch between the Seattle Storm and Las Vegas Aces takes place at 3 p.m.

 

How long is the WNBA season?

Teams will play 32 games in the 2021 season with an Olympic break stretching from July 15 to Aug. 11. This is longer than the 22-game slate teams played in the shortened 2020 season but shorter than the league's usual 36-game campaign.

Will WNBA games have fans?

The 12 WNBA franchises are headed back to their home arenas this season after spending last summer in the "Wubble" in Bradenton, Fla. WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in mid-April that the league has worked out reduced capacity for nine of the 12 teams and was nearing a 10th. 

How do the WNBA playoffs work?

Eight teams will advance to the postseason when the regular season ends on Sept. 19. The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds get double byes while No. 3 and No. 4 seeds get a single bye. The first round of the playoffs sees single-elimination matchups of No. 8-No. 5 and No. 7-No. 6. The lowest-seeded first-round winner advances to face the No. 3 seed in a single-elimination second round while the highest seed plays the No. 4 team.

The semifinals and WNBA Finals are best-of-five series. The No. 1 overall seed plays the lowest remaining seed and the No. 2 seed takes on the highest in the semifinals before the winner of each series makes the WNBA Finals.

Which team is the favorite to win the 2021 WNBA Finals?

Here are the current 2021 WNBA title odds (odd provided by our partner PointsBet):

Seattle Storm: +150

Las Vegas Aces: +350

Washington Mystics: +350

Los Angeles Sparks: +600

 

Phoenix Mercury: +800

Connecticut Sun: +800

Chicago Sky: +1000

Minnesota Lynx: +1400

New York Liberty: +5000

Dallas Wings: +7500

Indiana Fever: +7500

Atlanta Dream: +10000

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.

Max Molski contributed to this story.