Here is my (biased) opinions and hopes for the WNBA play-offs. It doesn't matter if a team is a favorite or heavily likely to win, I'm picking who I want. Hence, the before mentioned bias. :) Enjoy.
First off, here are the teams that actually made the post season this year: Atlanta Dream, Detroit Shock, Washington Mystics, Indiana Fever, Los Angeles Sparks, Seattle Storm, Phoenix Mercury, and San Antonio Silver Stars.
Here are the match-ups and my predictions (but mainly hopes!).
Silver Stars (15-19) v. Mercury (23-11):
Result: Mercury advance.
Interesting match-up and a good one to boot.
The Stars have Becky Hammon, Vickie Johnson, Ruth Riley, Ann Wauters, and Sophia Young who are either experienced or can bring it. They finished 15-19 this season and are not exactly a post season competitor. Their last outing in the post season was a loss in the WNBA Finals, losing in just three games. The reason they made it was a last minute winning shot, sending the Sparks home.
The Mercury have Diani Taurasi, Cappie Pondexter, rookie DeWanna Bonner, Tameka Johnson, Kelly Mazzante, Tangela Smith, and Penny Taylor. They love to speed up the game and score often and fast. They finished top of their respective conference, with a very nice 23-11 (the best overall too).
Sparks (18-16) v. Storm (20-14)
Result: Sparks advance.
Lisa Leslie's last season so you know she's leaving everything on the floor. Add Candace Parker, Shannon Bobbitt, Marie Ferinand-Harris, Betty Lennox, DeLisha Milton-Jones, and veteran Tina Thompson, and this team looks pretty menacing. But it's mainly the Parker/Leslie connection (and height!) that scares the opponent. The strong advantage of this team is their post game which I feel the Storm won't be able to handle. Inconsistency and lack of help from guards could be their demise.
I won't spend too much time on the Storm. No offense to their fans, but without Lauren Jackson, I don't think they'll do well. I know Sue Bird is great and she has an okay supporting cast, but without their favorite Australian, they shall be watching the games from home.
Mystics (16-18) v. Fever (22-12)
I was surprised to see the Mystics in this year, given their recent track record and problems. But this is so nice to see. I am a Marissa Coleman fan; it's true. Plus they have Matee Ajavon, Alana Beard, Nikki Blue, Crystal Langhorne, and some supporting players. They look stronger than they have in recent years and I look forward to their games. They did finish with a losing record though and it was tied with two other teams.
The Fever are looking strong with their nice season record (despite their current losing streak of two). They are 17-5 against their conference (the Mystics are in their conference). They are led by veterans Tamika Catchings and Katie Douglas. Tully Bevilaqua, Jessica Davenport, Ebony Hoffman, rookie Briann January, and Tammy Sutton-Brown should provide supporting help.
As much as I want the Mystics to advance, I feel they aren't quite there yet and the Fever will win. My fingers are still crossed though.
Shock (18-16) v. Dream (18-16)
Oh, look it's the Shock in the play-offs… again. No surprise there as this team always puts together a strong team. I don't like the Shock though (no worries, it's a Detroit thing I think) and never pull for them. Horrible I know.
They've already played one game, with the Shock coming from behind and winning. They only need one more game to advance, which I think they will. The next game I think will be close, but the depth and experience of the Shock will prevail, much to my dismay. Plus, I think Nolan will come back of the next game.
I'm not sure who I want to win it all this year. I really want to see the Dream, Mercury, and Mystics to advance, but not so sure all of them will. I don't want the Sparks or Shock to win it all. Harsh but true.
I think Mercury will overtake the Sparks and the Fever will upset the Shock with the Mercury winning it all. Pretty out there thinking but then again, who knows what's going to happen?
P.S. Chicago was this close to making it this year!
This article can also be seen at my Beneath the Bleachers blog at http://www.sportspagemagazine.com/content/header/blogs/dstewart/index.shtml