The WNBA playoffs begin tonight. Or, as Minnesotans refer to it, "our state's only chance at a championship" begins tonight. The top 4 teams in each conference are set to face off in what should be one of the most exciting playoffs in years.
Rookie sensations Elena Delle Donne and Brittney Griner will be on display. Tina Thompson will be playing in the last playoffs ever in her illustrious career. The Lynx will attempt to make it to their third consecutive WNBA Finals, and win their second championship. The Fever will attempt to win their second championship in a row. Candace Parker is in position to win her first WNBA championship.
In other words, there is a bevy of stories to choose from.
A few more notes about this year's playoffs:
- As mentioned, the top 4 teams in each conference make the playoffs, totaling out at 8 teams total.
- The first two rounds are played on a best-of-3 format. The Finals is a 5-game series (it used to be a best-of-3 format, until it was changed in 2005).
- Of the 8 teams in this year's playoffs, 5 of them (Fever, Lynx, Storm, Sparks, Mercury) have won the championship in the WNBA's 15 year existence.
- The remaining 3 teams (Sky, Dream, and Mystics) not only are without a title, two of them (Chicago and Washington) have yet to compete in the finals at all.
(1) Lynx vs (4)Storm
Game 1: Seattle at Minnesota, Fri Sept. 20, 9:00 ET, NBA TV
Game 2: Minnesota at Seattle, Sun Sept. 22, 5:00 ET, ESPN
Game 3 (If Necessary): Seattle at Minnesota, TBD
Lynx: C- McCarville/F- Brunson/F- Moore/G- Augustus/G- Whalen
Storm: F- Little/F- Thompson/G- Stricken/G- Wright/G- Johnson
Minnesota won regular season series 4-0
Summary: Minnesota had their way with Seattle this season, winning by double digits in all four meetings. To be fair, Seattle has been without two of their cornerstones Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson all year.
But, to back up those beatings, the Lynx do have four All Stars in their starting rotation, led by Maya Moore.
These teams faced off in the first round a year ago, and Seattle's healthy roster made it a much closer and more competitive series. With Tina Thompson entering her final playoffs of her storied career, the hope in Seattle is that she and her teammates will be able to use that as inspiration as they take on a heavy favorite in Minnesota. We will have more coverage on the Lynx as they move in the playoffs (if they move in the playoffs).
(2) Sparks vs (3) Mercury
Game 1: Phoenix at Los Angeles, Thu Sept. 19, 10:00 ET, ESPN2
Game 2: Los Angeles at Phoenix, Sat Sept. 21, 10:00 ET, NBA TV
Game 3 (If necessary): Phoenix at Los Angeles, Mon Sept. 23, 10:00 ET, ESPN2
Sparks: C- Parker/F- Ogwumike/F- Beard/G- Toliver/G- Harding
Mercury: C- Griner/F- Dupree/F- Bonner/G- Gilbreath/G- Taurasi
Teams split regular season series 2-2
Summary: Of all four first round matchups, this one might be the most competitive, and the most interesting. This series features some of the most notable names in the league in Brittney Griner, Diana Taurasi and Candace Parker. The Sparks were within striking distance of the top spot in the West, but just missed out to Minnesota.
The regular season series between the two teams had a weird array of box scores considering they were only 5 games apart in the standings. Remember first, these two teams each won 2/4 games between each other. Of the four games they faced off against each other, the final score finished within single digits only once. The most recent game the two of them played was an absolute mauling by LA, when they routed Phoenix 89-55 just a few days ago. Expect intensity to be high on both sides in this series -- and the games to be much closer.
(1) Sky vs (4) Fever
Game 1: Indiana at Chicago, Fri Sept. 20, 7:00 ET, NBA TV
Game 2: Chicago at Indiana, Sun Sept. 22, 3:00 ET, ESPN2
Game 3(If necessary): Indiana at Chicago, Tue Sept. 24, TBD
Sky: C- Fowles/F- Cash/F- Delle Donne/G- Prince/G- Vandersloot
Fever: C- Larkins/F-Douglas/F- Catchings/G-January/G- Zellous
Indiana won regular season series 3-1
Summary: With the emergence of rookie sensation and MVP candidate Elena Delle Donne, and the already-steady combo inside of Swin Cash and Sylvia Fowles, Chicago put together their best season as an franchise this year. What makes this first round series so interesting is that they'll have to start off their playoff journey against the defending champs.
This series could absolutely go either way, especially with the return of Indiana's star player Katie Douglas, who has been sidelined for the majority of the year with a bulging disk in her lower back. Having her back in the mix of things, with Catchings and Zellous playing some great basketball could make a huge difference for the Fever. This could have been a conference finals series had things gone differently for Douglas in the regular season.
(2) Dream vs (3) Mystics
Game 1: Washington at Atlanta, Thu Sept. 19, 8:00 ET, ESPN2
Game 2: Atlanta at Washington, Sat Sept. 21, 7:00 ET, NBA TV
Game 3(If Necessary): Washington at Atlanta, Mon Sept. 23, TBD, TBD
Dream: C- de Souza/F- Willingham/F- McCoughtry/G- Herrington/G- Thomas
Mystics: C- Vaughn/F- Langhorne/F- Currie/G- Ajavon/G- Latta
Atlanta Won Regular Season Series 3-2
Summary: This is the only series that doesn't feature a team with a ring, but there is plenty of talent in this pool of players. A season ago, the Mystics were one of the worst teams in the league. After the hiring of former Connecticut Sun coach Mike Thibault, they have made a complete turnaround and are one of the most interesting teams in the league. They're especially dangerous when their fiery point guard Ivory Latta gets hot from outside.
In the other locker room, it has been the Angel McCoughtry show for the majority of the season. She led the league in scoring at over 21 points per game, and with the help of Erika de Souza inside, the Dream have been a force to be reckoned with all season. De Souza is virtually impossible to stop inside with her size, and McCoughtry's high skill level makes her equally difficult to slow down. It will all come down to whether or not the Mystics can get hot and stay hot.