Seattle Storm, Las Vegas Aces clinch first two WNBA playoff spots

The Seattle Storm and Las Vegas Aces won Saturday to became the first two WNBA teams to clinch playoff berths.

Eight of the league's 12 teams will move on to the postseason.

The first-place Storm (13-3) defeated Chicago 88-74 as forward Natasha Howard had her best game of the season with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Forward Breanna Stewart had a team-high 21 points, and the Storm made 24 of their 28 free throw attempts.

"I really liked the energy we came out with defensively," Storm coach Gary Kloppenburg said. "It's been an emphasis lately to be aggressive, which is why we got to the line so often. These last couple of games we've played with more physicality, which is good for us."

Seattle point guard Sue Bird missed her fourth consecutive game with a knee injury, and Kloppenburg is hopeful she might return this week.

A'ja Wilson led the way as the second-place Aces (12-3) defeated New York 80-63. Wilson, a leading MVP candidate along with Stewart, had 20 points, 7 rebounds and 5 blocks.

"You come into this thing, and you never know what was going to happen," Las Vegas coach Bill Laimbeer said about clinching a playoff spot in the bubble in Bradenton, Florida. "So we'll take it. Now it's about seeding and trying to win every game that we can."

The WNBA is playing a 22-game regular season followed by conventional playoffs. The top two finishers in the standings get byes into the best-of-five semifinals. The Nos. 5-8 seeds play single-elimination first-round games, with the winners facing the Nos. 3-4 seeds in single-elimination second-round games.

The WNBA Finals, like the semifinals, will be a best-of-five series.

The Aces and Storm were scheduled to play Thursday in one of the games that was postponed by the WNBA's two-day break from play in protest after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. That game has now been rescheduled for Sept. 13 (ABC, 3 p.m. ET) -- the last game of the season for both teams.