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.