The regular season absolutely flew by this year and the playoffs start tonight! This year’s single elimination games feature some HUGE names and some of the WNBA’s biggest stars, so it’s bound to be even better than last year.
First up it’s the Dallas Wings at the Phoenix Mercury at 8:30 pm eastern time. Dallas barely made it into the playoffs after losing 8 games in a row, firing their head coach Fred Williams, and just beating the Aces on Friday night to take the 8th and final spot. They have been riding high on the amazing offense and defense of the nearly unstoppable center Liz Cambage and the stellar leadership of point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith. They have great young talent as well and veterans with players like last year’s rookie of the year Allisha Gray and vet Glory Johnson. But something has really changed for this team in the last month or so. Can they get a win on the road against the legend of Diana Taurasi, who is playing like she is ten years younger? Can Can age out duel one of the league’s best post players in Brittney Griner? And can the Wings’ wings stop DeWanna Bonner? My guess is that they will fall short, but it will be a close game, and the Mercury will really need to be their best to get a win, even with their amazing home fans cheering them on.
Up next tonight is one of the biggest rivalries in WNBA history, the two teams that have played each other in the Finals for the past two years, the Minnesota Lynx take on the Sparks in Los Angeles at 10:30 pm eastern time. This game will feature some of the most talented players the league as ever seen, and even in a down year, I expect Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen (in what could be her last playoff game ever) Sylvia Fowles, Brunson, and Augustus to give it their all in what is their last season all together. However, the Sparks have arguably just as much talent and have had the better year so far. MVP candidate Candace Parker continues to lead a team of stars along with Nneka Ogwumike (who may not be healthy or at 100%), reigning defensive player of the year Alana Beard, suddenly starting Riquna Williams, Chelsea Gray, Odyssey Sims, Essence Carson, and Jantel Lavender. As they’ve had the better year, and they are playing at home, I think the Sparks come out on top of another close, very physical game. Don’t be surprised if we see one or more the ejections tonight!
As far as round two goes, I see the Mystics and Sun really motivated, rested and moving on with wins into the semi-finals. I think the Mystics are hungry and will beat a tired Sparks team. I think the Sun are also very ready for revenge against the Mercury from last year’s loss in the second round. But in the semi-finals, I think the Dream’s defense gets it done against the Mystics strong offense, and I think the Sun come up short against the #1 seeded Seattle Storm.
In the Finals, the Dream simply won’t have the offensive firepower to compete with Seattle’s offensive and defensive balance. The Storm have simply been phenomenal this season. They were near the top of the league in almost every statistical category, and I expect them to continue to play just as well come their turn in the playoffs. Seattle is my pick to win their third WNBA championship, capping off an amazing season by Breanna Stewart, Natasha Howard, Jewell Loyd, Sue Bird, Alysha Clark and the rest of this 2018 Storm squad.