NEW YORK — The two spots in the WNBA Commissioner’s Cup championship could be decided Friday night.
Connecticut and Seattle hold the top position in the conferences and would both clinch spots in the inaugural title game Aug. 12 in Phoenix with victories. The Sun host Atlanta, while the Storm visit Phoenix.
The Storm could also clinch with a win by Minnesota over Las Vegas on Friday night.
Sue Bird admitted that early in the season, the Commissioner’s Cup wasn’t talked about too much, but as the team kept winning and got closer to clinching it’s more on the forefront of their minds.
“The conversations have changed,” she said. “What’s exciting about this is it’s the first year. Next year and years to come coaches will be stressing when you have a Commissioner’s Cup game.”
Even if the Sun don’t win on Friday, they can clinch the Eastern Conference berth with a win on Sunday against New York or a loss by Chicago against Washington on Saturday night.
“It’s been a discussion point in our locker room,” Sun coach Curt Miller said. “Maybe not for the first four or five games but as it became clear that we had a chance to be the representative of the East in the Commissioner’s Cup it became a part of our conversation in pregame; talking about which games were Commissioner’s Cup games, reminding them that it’s a significant bonus.
Miller feels that the Commissioner’s Cup has done what the league had hoped it would do by bringing a more competitive nature to the games as the teams are vying for a prize pool of a $500,000.
Members of the winning team will be able to earn in excess of $30,000 per player, while those on the runner-up team will have an opportunity to earn $10,000 per player. An additional $5,000 will be awarded to the MVP of the title game.
“We put an emphasis on it. We approach those games like there’s something on the line,” Connecticut guard Jasmine Thomas said. “I think it’s pretty exciting we’ve added this Cup to our season.”