Crucial night in playoff races as WNBA serves up a full plate of games
Every team hits the court tonight, as the WNBA gives us six games, all on live access, with all but one having intrigue and most having playoff implications.
Even the one with no playoff impact, Washington at Minnesota, has some intrigue. It will be the first return to Minnesota of Washington post Nicky Anosike, who didn’t exactly leave on the best terms after missing the tail end of each of the last two seasons. Having clinched the west and a virtual certainty for home court advantage throughout the playoffs, the 23-6 Lynx will hope to continue to surge, while the Mystics suddenly find themselves only two games ahead of Tulsa, winners of two in a row, for in the race to avoid the worst record in the league.
The Shock, having hurt the Los Angeles Sparks’ playoff chances and knocking off Eastern conference 2nd place Connecticut, welcome Phoenix to the BOK Center. The Mercury are in 3rd place, only 1/2 game behind Seattle, in the fight for home court advantage in their probable playoff series. Penny Taylor and Diana Taurasi have both been playing through some injuries for the Mercury, with only Taurasi sitting out any games. Tulsa in the meantime is loving that winning feeling, and Sheryl Swoopes has magically turned the clock back the last two games, playing big minutes and making big shots.
Phoenix’s opponent in that race for 2nd place, the Seattle Storm, hit the road, visiting the Sparks, who are in need of a victory after losing two in a row, and sitting a game and a half behind San Antonio for the last playoff spot in the west. The game features two of the WNBA’s best, who suffered through major injuries and missed a lot of time, Lauren Jackson of the Storm and Candace Parker of the Sparks. Seattle needs to improve on their 4-10 road record, and Los Angeles needs to almost win out, so the intensity will be high between two great rivals.
San Antonio needs to keep pace, ahead of Los Angeles and right behind Phoenix, with a disappointed Connecticut Sun team coming to town, on the heels of that loss to Tulsa. A team that struggled on the road mightily last season, the Sun are a more respectable 5-9 this year, but needs to prove it can win the big ones on the road. The Silver Stars handled the Sun easily not long ago in Connecticut, so the Sun will be looking to settle that score as well.
As the Sun try to catch the Indiana Fever in the Eastern Conference, the Fever have a huge game tonight in Atlanta. The Dream is now 2-0 vs. Indiana, winning in Conseco Fieldhouse this past weekend and preventing the Fever from clinching a playoff spot. The Fever are trying again to achieve that tonight, and to overcome the psychological issues with going 0-3 vs. a team they most likely will face in the playoffs. Atlanta has turned from an afterthought to a force, and sits 1/2 game behind New York in the race for 3rd place in the east with an incredible run fueled by Angel McCoughtry. The Catchings vs. McCoughtry matchup was fun to watch over the weekend and will be great again tonight.
The final game of the night is a virtual playoff game, as New York, in 3rd place by 1/2 game over Atlanta, but only two games ahead of 5th place, hosts that fifth place team, the Chicago Sky, in a must win game for the Sky. Chicago has won two in a row, and Sylvia Fowles was Eastern Conference Player of the Week, but the Liberty and Cappie Pondexter can’t be overlooked in a big game. Both teams need this one, and it should go down to the wire.
So here are my picks for tonight’s games:
- Minnesota over Washington
- Phoenix over Tulsa
- Los Angeles over Seattle
- San Antonio over Connecticut
- Indiana over Atlanta
- Chicago over New York