The WNBA semifinals are now set with Storm and Aces to contend in what has all the makings of an all-time great series – featuring seven previous first draft picks. Chicago and Connecticut will compete in another star-studded semi-final to see who can get one step closer to winning the title this year.
Before the second round of post-season begins, here are five quick notes from Round One that both look back on what really happened and get you ready for what’s to come.
1. The former Chicago experience still shines through in the opposite situations.
While playing on the road in this 3 Series Definition game, the sky has never been darker. Even after New York ran 7-0 to cut its fourth-quarter deficit by 10 points to just three, Chicago held on, expressing the experience and balance that were instrumental in securing the title last year. When coach and general manager James Wade called a timeout less than a minute into the fourth quarter, he reminded his team to keep their cool and focus on weeding out their mental blunders. The players did just that, running 16-0 over the next six minutes to put away the game and the series.
All-Star Center Emma Meeseman wasn’t a member of the title team last year, even though she was named MVP in the Finals with Mystics in 2019. Ahead of Tuesday’s game three, she thought about how the veteran team’s make-up played profit all year. . “Even if basketball isn’t perfect, you still have to keep fighting,” she said.
During the regular season, Chicago often played their best basketball in the most important minutes of the game. Sky was No. 1 net worth in the fourth quarter, Scoring teams by nearly nine points per 100 possessions. In Game 1 against Liberty, they fell back in the waning portion of the fourth quarter to drop the series opener. But such swings were rare for Chicago, and its defense is especially tough on key turns. Speaking after her team lost Game 3, Liberty coach Sandy Brundello noted the importance of Chicago’s cohesion. “I think that’s carried over into this year and I think it’s going to be really hard to beat them, to be completely honest,” she said.
2. How will Storm coach Noelle Quinn use her star positions?
Tina Charles has been open about her desire to win a championship with Seattle. This was the first reason the eight-time All-Star joined the franchise at the end of June after reaching a buyout deal with Mercury. While it took Charles a while to settle in with the storm, by the end of the season, she was an essential part of the best five-man squad in the WNBA. Among the groups of five players that have played together more than 100 minutes this season, None of them had the best net rating Of the five from Storm, goalkeeper Joel Lloyd, goalkeeper Sue Bird, striker Gabby Williams and striker Brenna Stewart. This combination is particularly effective in attack, where opposing teams are forced to make uncomfortable choices about who to stop.
At the same time, Charles’ arrival reduced the role of quarterback to Izzy Magbigor, who appeared to be one of the favorites to win the league’s Most Valuable Player award after the first two months of the season. Magbegor, who ranks among the top defensive positions in the league, looked increasingly comfortable returning to the bench role, but in Game 2 of the Seattle series with Washington, she actually played more minutes than Charles, overall and in the match-kick. Of course, having two centers that can make a significant impact is a good problem, but how Quinn deployed each will remain a curiosity ahead of the showdown with Las Vegas and its versatile front perimeter.
3. Chelsea Gray plays her best basketball at the right time.
Four members of the five most used initially were selected for the WNBA All-Stars team in July. Only one, goalkeeper Chelsea Gray, was not. However, after one round of playoffs, it’s fair to wonder if she plays better than any other player on the Las Vegas roster. The 29-year-old has averaged 20.8 points and 6.4 assists in his last five regular season games. That success carried over to the playoffs, where Gray put together 17 effective points on 6 of 9 shots from the field in Game 1 on Phoenix, and his most prolific 27 points, eight outing assists, while losing only 2 of her 11 shots, in Game 2 that decided a series Aces win.
“I think now as a team we play our best basketball from both ends,” Gray said afterwards. “You want to reach the peak in time, and for me, individually, that’s how I feel.”
Against Seattle, with forward Derica Hamby still suffering a right quadruple injury, Gray, along with guards Kelsey Bloom and Jackie Young and forward Aja Wilson, will have to maintain a similar level of success if the Aces are to advance. Gray has had success against Storm throughout the regular season, averaging 17.5 points, 7.5 assists and 5.3 rebounds in their four meetings, but how she performs in her best upcoming series out of five is, of course, far more important.
4. Connecticut’s defense is dangerous no matter the situation.
It looks like Connecticut State couldn’t have played worse in attack than they did in the first half of Game 3 against Dallas on Wednesday night. He hit 32% from the field, the worst first-half goal percentage in the playoffs since 2012; 27.3% of three; and 50% of the free throw line. However, heading to the locker room, the sun and wings were attached 34 pieces.
Coming out of the locker room, Connecticut increased their defensive pressure. It kept Dallas with only 24 points in the last 20 minutes of the game and forced 11 turns. The ability to stifle opponents in this way has been on display throughout the season—Sun finished the regular season No. 2 in the defensive ranking, 0.3 points worse out of all 100 possessions of the top-ranked Mystics.– They will be tested again against Chicago in the next round. Senior Connecticut will certainly play an important role against Sky, but look for second-year winger Dejonay Carrington to build on an impressive 3 game, which saw a 25-minute reserve team play in large part because of the defensive pressure she was on. Application. The Sun hit four straight semi-finals and is looking to avenge their loss in the playoffs last year to Heaven. Which defense is the best performing will loom large in determining the victor in the series.
5. The WNBA playoff first-round format remains polarized.
There is little controversy that this year’s first-round post-season format — which replaced the singles elimination game with a best-of-three series — is a step in the right direction for the WNBA. But how to structure the best of the three remains a moot point. Heading into his team’s series against New York, Wade said he wasn’t a “true fan” of the new structure, which hosts the top seeded’s first two games and the lower seeded hosts a potential 3 game. Chicago was tasked with coming out victorious in the winner-takes-all game, after dropping Game 1 at the Wintrust Arena. (It should also be noted that under the previous format, Chicago would also have had a double bye in the league semi-finals as a result of retaining the number two seed.)
2-1 makes travel easier for players, especially considering that the league has committed to only charter flights for teams during the finals. Plus, veteran Liberty guard Sammy Whitcomb believes, it can also create more intrigues because we are “the lowest seed but we’re at home, so anything can happen.” But it is fair to ask whether in future seasons they should move to a 1-2 structure to allow the higher seeded the opportunity to host a playoff, especially if the league sees the 1-1-1 option as implausible.
More WNBA coverage: