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.
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.