WNBA Championship Preview 2017

By S. Samek

Seems like it was just yesterday that we were previewing the WNBA semi-finals.

The matchups offered a bit of intrigue, as a couple of unlikely contenders went head to head with the top two teams in the league.

Both series ended in three game sweeps. So, to battle it out we have the reigning champion LA Sparks and the top -seed Minnesota Lynx. This is a rematch of last season’s championship series.

Last season I picked the Lynx to win. I was wrong as the Sparks took home the title.

LA Sparks

LA is a strong contender and deserves their chance to defend the title. They finished with the second-best record at 26-8, just a game behind Minnesota. They won their last seven games in a row and went 16-1 at home, best home record in the WNBA. A 10-7 away mark was pretty decent as well.

The duo averaged about 36 points per game during the regular season. Parker averaged 20 points a game during the one playoff series the Sparks played in and combined it with 8.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game. Ogwumike averaged 10 rebounds during the playoff matchup with Phoenix.

While LA is without Kristi Toliver a major contributor to last season’s run. They do have Chelsea Gray. Gray is averaging 6.7 assists per game, tops for the playoffs along with Parker.

Odyssey Sims came up big with 22 points in the game three win over Phoenix. She adds another scoring option for LA.

Minnesota Lynx

Yet Minnesota has dominated this season. Number one seed at 27-7. They put up the runner up home mark at 15-2 and 12-5 on the road. The concluded the season on a three-game winning streak. Heck they went on a 37-0 run against Indiana in a 59-point blowout win, both WNBA records this season. How’s that for dominating.

They have Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus, both average 19 points per game in the playoffs.

That’s not to forget they also have Sylvia Fowles and Lindsay Whalen. Fowles is the 2017 WNBA MVP, this for a season averaging 18.9 points per game 10.4 rebounds, both in the top five league wide. She also tied for the league-led in double doubles with 20.

This high level of play is being kept in the playoffs, where Fowles is average 20 points per game and 10 boards per game.

Whalen is among the playoff leaders in assists with just under five per game with Moore and Augustus behind per at just under four and a half per game.

The Lynx have a lot of talent to contend with. They seem to be the favorite again this year as well.

During the season series LA took two of the three match ups. This including the most recent matchup on August 27,2017 in LA. LA won last year despite being the underdog and is more than capable of during it again.

Either way this should be a treat of a series. I think it goes down to the fifth game once again. This time with the home team winning. I take the Lynx 3-2, just like last season.

 

 

 

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WNBA Semi-finals Predictions 2017

By S. Samek

Play off dust is starting to settle after the chase for spots.

Actually, they have played two rounds and the semifinals sit before us.

Battle number one is between the off-season winner’s Washington and the favorites from Minnesota. Washington got to this point with victories over Dallas and fourth seeded New York. Minnesota dominated this season earning the number one seed and a double bye into the semi-finals.

In the season series, the Lynx took all three meetings. Most recently the two played on September third, an 86-72 Lynx victory.
Taking a look at the matchup that features a lot of star power. Minnesota will go with Mya Moore, Sylvia Fowles and Lindsey Whalen. The Mystics counter with Elena Delle Donne, Kristi Toliver and Emma Messman.

Delle Donne scores at will averaging 19.7 points per game. Moore does too with 17.3 points per game. Though she does seem to elevate her game against Washington averaging 21.6 points and 5.3 rebounds. All of Moore’s other stats also improve vs. the Mystics as well.

Delle Donne missed a good bit of time this season with an injury, but has come to life in the playoffs, averaging 21.5 points and 10.5 boards.
Toliver adds three point shooting ability, including nine as part of a 32-point night against NY. Plus, she was a part of last season title winning LA Sparks, who beat the Lynx.
Fowles should be able to offer a 1-2 punch with Moore in scoring. She scores at a 18.9 points per game pace and controls the glass with 10.4 rebounds. Minnesota should be tough to stop offensively if both of them click.

I think the Lynx are favorites for a reason. They win games and titles like it’s their job. This experience should help against a Washington team that has never played for a title and has a 6-18 playoff record coming into this season.

Prediction is Lynx in thr.

Second Semi-final

The second semi-final is the two seeded LA Sparks and the Phoenix Mercury. The Mercury beat Seattle and Then upset Conneticut to advance to this round as the five seed. The defending champions come in at the number two position and earned a double-bye.
The season series was swept by LA. Though Phoenix kept in close in the first game of the series, losing by just a basket.

Though the last time these two met in the playoffs in 2014 it was the Mercury who survived.

LA is looking to Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike to led the way. Parker averaged 16.9 points per game and Ogwumike 18.8.

Phoenix will look to Britney Griner to led the way. Griner is the playoff scoring leader, averaging 24.5 points per game. This is over her 21.9 points per game regular season average, also tops in the league.

Diana Taurasi will complement Griner. Taurasi averaged 17.9 points per game during the regular season. She is also the WNBA all-time leader in three pointers made.

Phoenix can score a lot, but will it be enough to beat LA.
LA should lean on the experience of last year’s win. They are a formidable  team, having beaten a possible dynasty in Minnesota last season. They aren’t going to bow out early if they can help it. Phoenix may keep it close, but ultimately should falter. Sparks 3-1 is my prediction.

 

WNBA Playoff Chase 2017

Teams fighting for positions in close race as season expires.

By S. Samek

It’s the heat of the WNBA season. Eight teams enter the playoffs and spots are still up for grabs. Not many though as five of eight teams have punched a ticket to the Tournament.

The 2016 champions LA Sparks sit in the two seed with a mark of 21-8 so far. Ahead of them is their nemesis from the championship series last year the Minnesota Lynx at 22-6.

The Conneticut Sun have the bronze medal seed after a 19-10 record to date. Following them at number four is the League’s hottest team with five wins in a row, The New York Liberty.
In fifth it’s the off-season sighing winners the Washington Mystics. Though both the Liberty and Mystics sport identical 17-12 records.

Phoenix, Seattle and Dallas would round out the eight if the season where over. Chicago and Atlanta are chasing spots, but it doesn’t look good for either team. Atlanta has to be the coldest team in the league, having lost nine in a row.

San Antonio and Indiana have been eliminated from playoff contention. Both teams have won fewer than ten games. Atlanta has ten wins, but with the landslide at which they are headed I see their elimination coming swiftly.
The Sky have a bit of a challenge to get in as well. With a tough final five game slate. The Sky has to play all teams ahead of them in the standings, including Minnesota. They sit three games out of a playoff spot so, they may have to win out with help to get in.
The last three in at the moment should have a leg up on getting in. Seattle and Dallas sit just a game behind Phoenix. Though they each have a three-game lead up on Chicago. Lucky for these teams with the new playoff system in place, it won’t be a don’t finish eighth and get smashed by one last season’s finalists in the first-round situation. Though they still have to win four series to win it all as a five through eight seed.
Look for any head to head matchups down the stretch to settle seeding. The most intriguing of which would be the 1-2 rematch between LA and Minnesota. On August 27,2017. With LA a game behind the Lynx, who have a game an extra game left to play, this is a can’t miss matchup.
Be sure to check out the rest of the season’s sure to be clutch action. See you in the playoffs.

 

Mystics Moves Working

By S. Samek

The Washington Mystic made a splash in the offseason. . So now that the season is about half over how are those moves working out?

Elena Delle Donne was the Center piece of a big trade.  This season she is averaging almost 20 points per game in 15 starts.  Not career bests, but steady.  Though Delle Donne is ranked fourth in the league in scoring.

 Delle Donne is currently leading the Eastern Conference in All-Star voting.

Kristi Toliver was added in free agency. Toliver is averaging 10 points per game and that is down from 13 last season. . Her three-point percentage, a prime reason for her acquisition is down as well. Toliver hit threes at 42 percent last season, but is only at 35 percent this year.

The Mystics are doing ok this season. In the most recent power rankings they were ranked third. This came in behind the current champs LA and a Minnesota team fresh off a finals appearance. The Mystics own a 10-6 overall record, including a 7-2 mark at home, while being highly ranked in several statistical categories.

Stefanie Dolson, who was acquired by Chicago for Delle Donne is playing well. Dolson is averaging a career high 12.9 points per game. She has also seen her minutes increased significantly playing over 28 per game against 22.5 last season.

The number two overall pick was spent on Alaina Coats of South Carolina. Coats doesn’t have any statistical data to report.

The Sky have struggled mighty this season. The team has three wins this year and 12 losses. They were recently defeated by the San Antonio Stars, which came into the game winless. The sit at number 11 of 12 in this week’s power rankings.

Mystic’s moves looking like the right ones.

 

WNBA Records

By S. Samek

Everyone loves a winner. So why not love these winners in what is looking to be a year of records for the WNBA.

Sue Bird is entering the top 10 in all time points scored. Bird scored 10 against San Antonio on June 6 to become the 10th best point scorer. Bird has tallied at least 5,565 career points. Bird isn’t just happy to score point either. She is the league runner up in all time assists.  With 146 more helpers, she can pass the mark of 2,599 held by Ticha Penicheiro.

Bird is also among the league’s best in three-pointers and steels, ranking in the top 10 in both stats. Though most notable is Bird’s four Olympic gold medals for the United States of America, most by any player male, or female.

Speaking of three pointers, its Diana Taurasi. The Phoenix Guard broke the all-time three-point record on June 1,2017. Taurasi is also chasing the all-time scoring record sitting in second place. The all-time points mark is 7,488 and is owned by Tina Thompson. 29 points is all the separate the two. Taurasi’s next shot at the record is Friday when Phoenix plays Chicago.

 

The next record to fall was all time wins by an individual. This mark now belongs to Lindsay Whalen. Whalen has amassed 295 victories and counting in 14 seasons in the WNBA. Swain Cash was the former record holder for wins with 294. The historic win is coming during a strong winning streak for last season’s runner up Minnesota.

The final record is for collecting awards. Tina Charles snags this honor for winning WNBA player of the week 23 times. This comes after Charles was awarded this week’s player of the week award. The mark bests Tamika Catchings’ 22 awards.

Lots of winner’s here with lots more to come during this young season.

 

 

Dealing in DC.

Mystics improving team in off-season.

By S. Samek

 

The Washington Mystics are on the move up. After finishing the 2016 season in 10th place in 12th team with an 13-21 record. The team has been making movies to turn themselves into the favorite in 2017.

 

The biggest move the Mystics made was the acquiring Elena Delle Donne from the Chicago Sky for Stefanie Dobson, Kahleah Cooper and the 2nd overall pick in 2017. After getting Delle Donne the Mystics also added Kristi Toliver via free agency from defending champion Los Angeles.

 

Toliver is a veteran player who can light it up from three- point range. Toliver hit 42.4 percent from behind the line last season. A mark which was good for fourth in the league in three-point percentage. Interesting enough Delle Donne was ahead of Toliver in three-point percentage, ranking third with a 42.6 percent made.

 

Delle Donne also contributed a tied for the league lead 21.5 points per game while playing in the fourth most average minutes per league at 33.1. Also on Delle Donne top five offensive ability is her free throw percentage at 93.5 good for second best in the WNBA.

 

Complementing the new acquisitions is Emma Meesseman. Meesseman was the WNBA’s top three-point shooter by percentage at 44.8 percent. Additionally, Taylor Hill was resigned by the Mystics. Hill averaged 15 points per game in just above 29 minutes per game for the Mystic last season. The 15 points per game to go along with 32 games started are career highs for the player drafted a couple slots after new acqusion Delle Donne.

 

The Mystics  should improve on offense and be more accurate on three pointers. This can make them hard to defend from deep. With multiple shooters, able to hit threes as accurate as anyone in the league even a double team would leave other players wide open.

 

Delle Donne and Toliver also bring playoff experience. Toliver was part of the WNBA champion Sparks last season and Delle Donne’s Sky was the fourth seed in the tournament before losing to the Atlanta Dream in round one. Making this one of the intangibles the Mystic’s could use to make a long playoff run.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WNBA Title Preview

Lynx have upper hand in winner-take-all game

By S. Samek

WNBA.jpg
Photo credit: twincities.com

It all comes down to every sports fans’ best dream and worst nightmare: the winner-take-all game.

The WNBA will give us this opportunity as the Minnesota Lynx meet the Los Angeles Sparks for the WNBA Title.

Before I get to my pick, first let’s get a quick look to the background of both teams’ runs to the championship. Continue reading “WNBA Title Preview”