2021 WNBA playoffs -- Predicting which team wins the championship

Sorry, Seattle, no one on our panel is picking you to repeat. In fact, in our 2021 WNBA playoff predictions, the majority of experts tabbed the reigning WNBA champion Storm to get upset at home in the second round.

So which team is the 2021 front-runner? The top-seeded Connecticut Sun-- who have won a franchise-record 14 straight games -- were the favorite to win this season's title. Our panel -- ESPN's Kelly Cohen, Doug Kezirian, Dana Lee, Kevin Pelton and Mechelle Voepel -- unanimously predicted the Las Vegas Aces to return to the WNBA Finals for a second consecutive season. The Aces received two votes as the predicted 2021 champ.


Connecticut, which lost to the Washington Mystics in a five-game WNBA Finals in 2019, is looking for its first title. The Sun, who are led by MVP favorite Jonquel Jones, also reached the championship series in 2004 and 2005.Las Vegas, which was swept by Seattle in the 2020 Finals, also seeks its first championship.

The playoffs open Thursday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2) with a pair of first-round, single-elimination games. Connecticut Las Vegas have double-byes and don't play again until Tuesday, when the best-of-five WNBA semifinals open.

Seven players in ESPN's ranking of the 25 greatest players in WNBA history will be competing in the playoffs.

A look at our panel's predictions:

Who wins their first-round matchup: No. 7 Dallas Wings or No. 6 Chicago Sky?



Cohen: Chicago Sky

Kezirian: Chicago Sky

Lee: Chicago Sky

Pelton: Dallas Wings

Voepel: Chicago Sky

Who wins their first-round matchup: No. 8 New York Liberty or No. 5 Phoenix Mercury?



Cohen: Phoenix Mercury

Kezirian: Phoenix Mercury

Lee: Phoenix Mercury


Pelton: Phoenix Mercury

Voepel: Phoenix Mercury

Which team playing in the first round has the best chance of reaching the WNBA Finals?



Cohen: Phoenix Mercury

Kezirian: Phoenix Mercury

Lee: Phoenix Mercury

Pelton: Phoenix Mercury

Voepel: Phoenix Mercury

Which teams will meet in the semifinals?



Cohen: No. 1 Connecticut Sun vs. No. 5 Phoenix Mercury and No. 2 Las Vegas Aces vs. No. 3 Minnesota Lynx

Kezirian: No. 1 Connecticut Sun vs. No. 4 Seattle Storm and No. 2 Las Vegas Aces vs. No. 3 Minnesota Lynx

Lee: No. 1 Connecticut Sun vs. No. 5 Phoenix Mercury and No. 2 Las Vegas Aces vs. No. 3 Minnesota Lynx

Pelton: No. 1 Connecticut Sun vs. No. 4 Seattle Storm and No. 2 Las Vegas Aces vs. No. 3 Minnesota Lynx


Voepel: No. 1 Connecticut Sun vs. No. 5 Phoenix Mercury and No. 2 Las Vegas Aces vs. No. 3 Minnesota Lynx

Which teams will meet in the WNBA Finals?



Cohen: No. 1 Connecticut Sun vs. No. 2 Las Vegas Aces

Kezirian: No. 1 Connecticut Sun vs. No. 2 Las Vegas Aces

Lee: No. 1 Connecticut Sun vs. No. 2 Las Vegas Aces

Pelton: No. 1 Connecticut Sun vs. No. 2 Las Vegas Aces

Voepel: No. 1 Connecticut Sun vs. No. 2 Las Vegas Aces

Which team will win the 2021 WNBA title?



Cohen: Las Vegas Aces

Kezirian: Las Vegas Aces

Lee: Connecticut Sun

Pelton: Connecticut Sun

Voepel: Connecticut Sun
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