Posted by Michael on November 28, 2008
2008 WNBA Playoffs Recap – September 28 – No. 1 San Antonio Silver Stars 76, No. 3 Los Angeles Sparks 72
No. 1 San Antonio Silver Stars 76, No. 3 Los Angeles Sparks 72
SAN ANTONIO – When San Antonio started building for a championship run last year the Silver Stars only had one player in mind that they wanted to build their team around. In only two years Becky Hammon has the team on the verge of fulfilling the mission she was brought in to complete.
The nine-year veteran scored the second most points in a playoff game to lead San Antonio to its first WNBA Finals. The top seeded Silver Stars won game three at home in the AT&T Center, 76-72, over the Los Angeles Sparks.
San Antonio advances to the Finals where it will meet the winner of the Detroit-New York series that concludes Monday night. Unlike the first two rounds, the Finals are a best-of-five series with the first two games in San Antonio by virtue of the Silver Stars having the best record in the league. Game three and potentially four would be in either Detroit or New York with a game five back in San Antonio.
This was only the fourth playoff appearance for the Silver Stars and just their second in San Antonio. The franchise was moved from Utah to the Lone Star State after the 2002 season. Last year the Silvers Stars were swept by Sacramento on its way to the WNBA title. In 2002 the Utah Starzz were swept by Los Angeles in the conference finals.
The Sparks advanced to the conference finals for the sixth time in their history and the second time in the last three years. LA has won three-straight Western Conference titles, but hasn’t raised a banner since 2003.
The game was a classic back-and-fourth battle with 15 lead changes and four ties through the first two quarters of play. The Sparks ended the first half on a 6-0 run to take a 33-29 lead into the locker room on a Temeka Johnson jumper just as the first half horn sounded.
Baskets by Candace Parker and Lisa Leslie to start the second half quickly got the Sparks’ lead up to 37-31 at the 8:26 mark. Two minutes later Shannon Bobbitt hit a three-pointer to give LA an eight-point lead, 44-36, and three minutes after that Raffaella Masciadri completed an old-school three point play to get the lead back to eight.
With a chance to put the hammer down, the Sparks they went cold over the next two minutes and that allowed San Antonio to get back into the game. Following Masciadri’s three-point play, Los Angeles missed its next two shots and had a pair of turnovers that fueled an 8-0 San Antonio run that tied the game at 50 on a Ruth Riley jumper at the 1:38 mark of the third.
Sophia Young made her third shot in a row just 33 seconds into the fourth quarter to give the Silver Stars the lead back, 56-55. The lead would change hands 10 times over the next seven minutes and Johnson appeared to give LA a solid five point cushion, 72-67, with a pair of free throws at the 1:57 mark.
What Los Angeles didn’t know is that would be the last time it would score a point during the 2008 season. Young followed the free throws with a lay up then Hammon nailed a three-pointer with 1:01 to play to knot the game at 72.
After a Johnson miss that would have regained the lead for the Sparks, Hammon was fouled by Parker and she knocked down both tosses from the charity stripe. LA had a chance to tie, but DeLisha Milton-Jones turned the ball over with 27 seconds left and Los Angeles was forced to foul. Hammon canned two more free throws to seal the victory and the Silver Stars first trip to the Finals.
Just as it has for most of the playoffs, the majority of San Antonio’s scoring came from Hammon (35) and Young (18) as they combined for 70 percent (53-of-76) of the Silver Stars points. The 35 points tied Hammon with Leslie for the second-most points ever in a playoff game. Tamika Whitmore set the record of 41 two years as a member of the Indiana Fever.
Hammon also had a team-high seven rebounds and four assists. Ann Wauters and Erin Buescher added eight points each. San Antonio got all but five of its points from its starters.
Los Angeles had its most balanced scoring of the playoffs with four players in double figures. Parker had 16 points as did Milton-Jones who added 10 rebounds for the double-double, but her turnover late in the game gave San Antonio the lead for good. Parker just missed a double dip with nine rebounds. Johnson had 12 points and Masciadri added 10.
Masciadri got the starting nod at guard over Kiesha Brown and Marie Ferdinand-Harris. Los Angeles’ backcourt has been its weakest link all year and neither Brown nor Ferdinand-Harris played well on the road in the playoffs.
The Sparks had been playing some of the best defense in the playoffs, but when it mattered the most they let San Antonio shoot 49 percent (24-of-49) overall and 50 percent (8-of-16) from behind the arc. LA did shoot well from three-point range, 7-of-17 (41.2 percent), but was only 40.6 percent (26-of-64) overall.
As to be expected, the best rebounding team in the league held a 32-22 advantage over San Antonio, including 13 offensive rebounds. Fouls plagued the Sparks as the Silver Stars made more free throws, 20-of-26 including 9-for-9 by Hammon, than LA took, 13-of-19.
Posted by Dan on September 29, 2008
2008 WNBA Playoffs Recap – September 28 – No. 1 Detroit Shock 64, No. 3 New York Liberty 55
No. 1 Detroit Shock 64, No. 3 New York Liberty 55
YPSILANTI, Mich. – Ten minutes away from advancing to the WNBA Finals, the New York Liberty showed its age. So did the Detroit Shock. Detroit overcame a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit to keep its season alive with a 64-55 victory over the Liberty.
The victory tied up the Eastern Conference Finals and forced a deciding game three on Monday night. For the second game in a row the contest will be played at the Convocation Center on the campus of Eastern Michigan University – which is an hour west of Detroit – because of a scheduling conflict with the Palace of Auburn Hills, the Shocks’ normal home court.
Either Detroit or New York has in the Eastern Conference finals every year accept 2005 since the league expanded the playoffs in 1999. The Shock have won both of the game threes they’ve played in – 2007 against Indiana and at Connecticut in 2006. New York has split both of its game threes – losing to Connecticut in 04 and beating Charlotte on the road in 1999.
After a fairly even first quarter, the Shock dug themselves a hole by only scoring 25 points in the second and third quarters. New York scored 19 points in the third period with Erlana Larkins’ lay up staking the Liberty to 46-38 lead with 1:03 to play in the third.
In the fourth the Liberty, the youngest team in the league, showed their age, and their nerves. New York had three turnovers and a missed lay up during the first two minutes of the quarter and that allowed Detroit to go on a 5-0 run to close within 46-44. Deanna Nolan made four free throws around a Taj McWilliams-Franklin lay up to give Detroit the lead, 50-49, with 6:48 to play.
“I think we showed our youth,” New York head coach Pat Coyle said. “For three quarters, we played really well, but early in the fourth, we missed some shots and got rattled.”
A three-pointer by Loree Moore temporarily gave the Liberty the lead back, but her three ball at the 6:10 mark would be New York’s last points four nearly four and a half minutes. Five different players scored during an 11-0 run as a close game turned into an easy victory of the Shock. Elaine Powell hit a jumper to put Detroit up 61-52 with 1:58 left to cap off the run and get the Shock thinking about game three.
“We played Shock basketball in the fourth quarter, and we started having fun again,” Detroit head coach Bill Laimbeer said. “We just needed to hit a few shots and get things going on defense.”
Her fourth-quarter scoring barrage pushed Nolan to a team-high 22 points to go along with six rebounds. Katie Smith added 11 points and pulled in five rebounds as well. McWilliams-Franklin grabbed 11 rebounds.
Detroit got a huge boost both emotionally and on the court from the return of forward Plenette Pierson. During game two of the opening round, Pierson was dropped to the ground by Indiana’s Ebony Hoffman and separated her shoulder. She missed game three of that series and game one of the one with New York. Runner-up for WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year, she scored 10 points off the bench.
Only one player managed to get into double figures for New York as Christon led the way with 16 points. McCarville was next with nine points while Cathrine Kraayeveld had seven points and nine rebounds.
Good defense at both ends of the court kept the shooting percentages low. Detroit shot 39 percent (23-of-59) to the Liberty’s 37.3 percent (22-of-59). New York was able to keep itself in the game by knocking down the outside shot. The Liberty were 9-of-26 from behind the arc, compared to Detroit’s 2-of-10.
The Shock compensated for their lack of three-point shooting by getting to the free throw lane more. Detroit made twice as many free throws, 16-of-23, than New York took, 2-of-7. Another area where Detroit had a distinct advantage was on the glass. The Shock had a 36-to-24 advantage on the boards with four players grabbing five or more rebounds.
Posted by Dan on
2008 WNBA Playoffs Recap – September 27 – No. 1 San Antonio Silver Stars 67, No. 3 Los Angeles Sparks 66
No. 1 San Antonio Silver Stars 67, No. 3 Los Angeles Sparks 66
SAN ANTONIO – There are only a handful of things that you can do in less than a second. Win a WNBA playoff game is one of them. Sophia Young hit a jumper as time expired to keep the San Antonio Silver Stars’ season alive as the top seed in the Western Conference beat the Los Angeles Sparks, 67-66.
The third and deciding game will be played on Sunday at the AT&T Center. San Antonio, who has won a league-best 27 games this year, had the second-best home record in the league and is 16-3 at home. Los Angeles hasn’t won in San Antonio since the middle of the 2006 season.
Los Angeles, which has been to more conference finals, seven, than any other team in the WNBA, is 2-1 in game three during the Western finals. However, that one loss did come on the road versus Houston in 1999. The Sparks two victories came at the Staples Center.
This was the first Western Conference finals that the franchise has won. They were swept last season by Phoenix and their only other appearance came in 2002 when the team was located in Utah. That year they were swept by Los Angeles and the following season the franchise moved to San Antonio.
After only scoring 24 points in the second and third quarters, the Sparks found themselves down nine points and their margin was actually 14 at one point. Los Angeles quickly turned the tide in the fourth quarter and took the lead.
The Sparks opened the fourth quarter on a 12-2 run with Candace Parker and DeLisha Milton Jones scoring all 12 points. A pair of Parker free throws at the 5:08 mark gave the Sparks their first lead since the second quarter when they squandered the seven point lead they had after the first quarter.
Parker nailed two more from the charity strip to stake LA to a three-point lead, but Becky Hammon hit a three-pointer a minute later to tie the game at 60-60. Parker and Milton-Jones – who scored all 20 of Los Angeles’ fourth-quarter points – each hit a pair of baskets to put the Sparks out in front, 64-60 with 1:33 to play.
Hammon hit another three-pointer and Young canned a pair of free throws with only 11 seconds remaining give San Antonio a one-point lead, 65-64. Tameka Johnson missed the potential go ahead basket with just over a second-left to play, but Milton-Jones was there for the put back. After a San Antonio time-out put the ball at half court, Young took the inbounds and put up a prayer that banked off the glass and won the game.
Young led all scorers with 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the double-double. Two other players reached double digits for San Antonio with Hammon tossing in 19 and Ann Wauters adding 11.
Fifty of Los Angeles points came from three players, headed up by Parker as she scored 19 points and pulled in 17 rebounds. Lisa Leslie also had a double-double with 17 points and 12 boards. The duo also combined for seven blocks. Milton-Jones was next at 14 points.
The two teams were very close with San Antonio holding a slight advantage in all the shooting categories: FG (40%-35.6%), 3PT FG (38.5%-31.6%) and FT (82.4%-72.7%). Los Angeles kept it close with rebounding advantage, 39-31, including 12 offensive boards.
Posted by Dan on
2008 WNBA Playoffs Recap – September 25 – No. 3 New York Liberty 60, No. 1 Detroit Shock 56
No. 3 New York Liberty 60, No. 1 Detroit Shock 56
NEW YORK – As the youngest team in the league, the thought of being on the doorstep of the WNBA Finals may have been overwhelming to the New York Liberty. Fortunately for the third-seeded team in the Eastern Conference they were able to recover from a poor finish to the first quarter and beat the top-seeded Detroit Shock, 60-56, in first game of the conference finals.
The Liberty started the game by only scoring eight points and played even for the next two quarters before making their move in the fourth. New York outscored Detroit 24-14 in the fourth to prevail by four.
The series now shifts to Detroit for game two and potentially game three. Game two will be played Sunday afternoon, but the game will not be played on the Shock’s home floor. Because of scheduling conflicts with The Palace of Auburn Hills, the game two and game three, if necessary, will be played at the Convocation Center on the campus of Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich., which is about an hour away.
For the opening minutes of the game it looked that Detroit was the younger of the two teams as they managed to score only two points for the first four minutes of the game. A lay up by Shameka Christon at the 3:06 mark of the first quarter gave the Liberty an 8-7 lead, but that would be the last points the host would score the rest of the period.
Detroit went on a 10-run from the three-minute mark of the first quarter through the first 2:26 of the second to capture a 17-8 advantage. A lay up by Janel McCarville would stop the Shock’s run and sparked one by the Liberty. She personally outscored Detroit 9-2 over the next two minutes to pull New York within three, 19-16.
The Shock would recover and take a six-point lead into the locker room, 29-23. Just like it did to start the game, New York played excellent defense to start the second half. Again it was McCarville capping a run that gave the Liberty a 34-33 lead with 5:25 to go in the third.
Katie Smith made a pair of baskets that helped Detroit take a 42-36 lead at the end of three quarters. Once again the Liberty’s defense came through as they held the Shock to just one point through the first 5:24 of the fourth quarter. Essence Carson and Cathrine Kraayeveld combined to score eight points in two minutes to push the Liberty’s lead to five, 55-50, with 1:55 to play.
Deanna Nolan, who scored the Shock’s last 11 points, hit a trio of free throws to close the margin to 57-56 with just 18 seconds left. After Erin Thorn hit two free throws, Nolan missed a three pointer that would have tied the game and another Thorn three sealed the victory.
McCarville led the way for New York, producing a team-high 17 points. The only other Liberty player to reach double figure was Christon and she produced a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Sixty-three percent of Detroit’s scoring came from two players. Nolan scored a game-high 22 points and Smith added 13 more.
Both teams played great defense as neither team shot better than 36 percent from the field with New York having a slight edge – 35.9 percent to 34.4 percent. Neither team was particularly sharp from behind the arc, as Detroit shot 31.3 percent (5-of-16) to Liberty’s 4-of-14 (28.6 percent).
As a result, both teams had a number of rebounds. After Christon’s 11 boards, four more New York players had four or more rebounds and Detroit had six players that grabbed that many boards. The Liberty had a one-board advantage, 37-to-36.
Posted by Dan on September 26, 2008
2008 WNBA Playoffs Recap – September 24 – No. 3 Los Angeles Sparks 85, No. 1 San Antonio Silver Stars 70
No. 3 Los Angeles Sparks 85, No. 1 San Antonio Silver Stars 70
LOS ANGELES – Through the first quarter of game one in the WNBA Western Conference Finals it appeared that the top seeded San Antonio Stars had broken out of the offensive funk that plagued them during the first round. Then the second started.
The Silver Stars jumped out to a quick 26-17 lead after the first 10 minutes of play. The rest of the way San Antonio only scored 44 points as it dropped an 85-70 decision to the number three seed Los Angeles Sparks. The game was played on the USC campus because of a scheduling conflict with the Staples Center.
Game two is Saturday night in San Antonio at the AT&T Center. Despite having the second-best home record in the league, the Silver Stars dropped their first home playoff games to Sacramento and needed overtime to finish off the Monarchs.
This is the second year in a row that San Antonio has found itself trailing in the Western Conference Finals. Last season they lost their first game to Phoenix, who swept them and went on to win the WNBA Championship.
The victory was the Sparks’ first in the conference finals since the 2003 season when they beat Sacramento in the game three. Los Angeles lost in three to Detroit during the WNBA Finals.
After the Sparks found themselves down nine points following the first quarter, Los Angeles started the second quarter on a 9-2 run to pull within 28-26 on a pair of Marie Ferdinand-Harris free throws. Candace Parker hit a pair of baskets during a 2:23 stretch with the second giving LA a 35-34 lead.
The two teams would trade baskets until WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Lisa Leslie took control of the game. She scored six-straight points to ignite an 11-0 run by Los Angeles to close the half with the Sparks leading 48-39.
The second half started with San Antonio scoring the first two baskets to cut the lead to five, 48-43, at the 8:05 mark. The Sparks answered with a quick run of their own as Ferdinand-Harris hit a pair of baskets to push the margin to 11. The lead would remain around 10 for the rest of the quarter.
The Silver Stars worked to cut the lead to six, 74-68, on a lay up by Erin Buescher at the 5:05 mark. Unfortunately, San Antonio would only make one of its last eight shots as the Sparks closed the game on an 11-2 run.
Leading all scorers was Leslie as she poured in 22 points to go along with seven points and four assists before she fouled out for the second playoff game in a row. Posting her first career playoff double-double was Parker with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Ferdinand-Harris and Tameka Johnson equaled Parker’s 14 points.
A starter in the first three games, Johnson came off the bench against San Antonio.
She added five assists and Shannon Bobbitt had five more. The knock on LA has been is front court, but Johnson and Bobbitt have risen to the occasion at home. The challenge for them will be to get it done on the road.
During the opening round the Silver Stars had the top scoring tandem in the Becky Hammon and Sophia Young as they both averaged 19 points. In game one they were held to combined 25 points. Ann Wauters led San Antonio with 18 points and Vickie Johnson had 10. The Silver Stars’ starting five accounted for 89 percent of the team’s scoring.
Los Angeles was on fire from the floor, hitting 52.9 percent (36-68) to the Silver Stars’ 40.3 percent (25-of-62). The Sparks also dominated San Antonio on the boards, 37-21, and in the assist category, 27-16.
Posted by Dan on
WNBA Playoff Preview
No. 1 Seed Detroit Shock vs. No. 3 Seed New York Liberty
Season Series: Detroit Won 3-1
In Detroit: Detroit Leads 2-0
In New York: Series Tied 1-1
Last Meeting: September 14, Detroit won 61-59 in New York
Sept 25 @ DET 72-62
July 12 @ NYC 74-64
Aug 29 @ DET 83-69
Sep 14 @ NYC, DET 61-59
Friday, September 26 @ New York, 7:30 p.m. TV: MSG, NBA TV
Sunday, September 28 @ Detroit, 3 p.m. TV: ESPN2
If Necessary Monday, September 29 @ Detroit, 7 p.m. TV: ESPN2
This Season Series:
One of the better road teams on the road, New York has won a Eastern Conference best nine games this season away from Madison Square Garden, but one of the places they couldn’t win was The Palace of Auburn Hills. The Liberty dropped both of their contests in Motown by a combined 24 points this season. Because of a scheduling conflict New York won’t actually have to step foot in the Palace as game two, and potentially game three, will be played in the Convocation Center on the campus of Eastern Michigan University, which is located about an hour west in Ypsilanti. At home New York won its lone game against the Shock, 74-64, and dropped a 61-59 decision in the season finale.
About the Detroit Shock:
Detroit extended its winning streak from the regular season to six games with an opening round victory over the Connecticut Sun, but they had their streak stopped in game two, 89-82 in overtime. During the game, forward Plienette Pierson was dropped to the floor by the Sun’s Ebony Hoffman. That fired up the Shocks as they played well at both end of the court during a 80-61 drubbing of Indiana in game three. Detroit has been in three of the last four WNBA Finals, winning the whole thing in 2006 and 2003. They lost last season in four games to Sacramento. The Shock have won an Eastern Conference best 15 games at home this season and are tied with New York as the best road team with nine victories.
About the New York Liberty:
The youngest team in the WNBA, New York had an up and down finish the regular season, but put it together to during the first round of the playoffs. After winning game one on their home court, the Liberty nearly swept the series, losing 73-70 in game two. They completed the upset of the second-seeded Sun on Monday night with the 66-62 decision. New York has been getting it done on the defensive end of the court, limiting the Sun to only 65 points per game and 62.5 ppg. during their two victories. The Liberty advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for just the second time since the 2002 season. New York had to win an Eastern Conference-best nine road wins to make up for a 12-6 mark a home that is the lowest of the any of the eight teams that qualified for the playoffs.
The Match Up
The Eastern Conference Finals will be a match up of the old Beast of the East versus the new Beast. The Liberty were in four of the first six WNBA Finals, but they never won a championship. Now Detroit has taken over as the East’s top dog. During the regular season both teams held opponents to 74 ppg. and in the playoffs Detroit has stayed true to that number while New York has limited to nine points below that. The Liberty have needed to play better defense as their scoring is also down by seven points. The Shock have turned up their efforts on offense, scoring 81 ppg., compared to their 78.6 during the regular season.
Players To Watch:
Detroit guard Deanna Nolan has been the top scorer during the playoffs with an average of 19.6 ppg. Forward Taj McWilliams-Franklin has also reached double figures in all three games. Guard Katie Smith, a potential league MVP candidate disappeared in game one, but has score 15 points in each of the last two. On the boards, Kara Braxton has had six or more rebounds in all three games. Through the first two games Pierson was giving the Shock solid minutes off the bench, but her status for the conference finals is uncertain.
In all three playoff games New York had three players in double figures with Shameka Christon and Janel McCarville getting there in all three games. Christon is leading the way at 14.3 while McCarvline is averaging an even dozen points. Guard Cathrine Kraayevled has been distributing the ball extremely well, averaging seven assists per game. Rebounding has been a total team effort with a different player leading the team each game.
New York just isn’t scoring enough points right now to keep up with the Shock. If they were a little bit more experienced team they might have a fighting chance, but Detroit will be back in the finals after a sweep of the Liberty.
Posted by Dan on
WNBA Playoff Preview
No. 1 Seed San Antonio Silver Stars vs. No. 3 Los Angeles Sparks
Season Series: Tied 2-2
In Los Angeles: Sparks Lead 2-0
In San Antonio: Silver Starts Lead 2-0
Last Meeting: September 5, San Antonio Won 75-58 in San Antonio
Thursday, September 25 @ Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m. TV: NBA-TV
Saturday, September 27 @ San Antonio, 3 p.m. TV: NBA TV
If Necessary Sunday, September 28, @ San Antonio, 5 p.m. TV: ESPN2
This Season Series:
During the four meetings this year between the two teams, the home team prevailed in all four. In each instance, one of the games was close and the other was virtually a blow out. The Sparks are averaging 66.5 points per game in either venue so where the difference has been is with the Silver Stars. San Antonio averaged 76.5 ppg. at home against Los Angeles, but only scored 57.7 ppg in the Staples Center. If the last two games are any indications, the Sparks may have a tough time scoring points against the Silver Stars regardless of the location the game as they managed just 58 points in each contests.
About the Silver Stars:
The number two defensive team in the WNBA during the regular season, the Silver Stars have gone away from the formula that got them the league’s best record during the playoffs. In the regular season San Antonio gave up only 71.1 points per game, which ranked less than half a point behind the league leader Seattle. During the playoffs the Silver Stars are giving up a tad under 10 points more per game as Sacramento scored an average of 81.0 ppg. during the opening series. This wouldn’t be an alarming fact except that the Monarchs rated ninth out of 12 teams in scoring offense. To make up for the lack of defense, San Antonio has countered with more offense as it has scored 79.3 ppg, which is more than five points above its regular season average.
San Antonio had the best record during the regular season, 24-10, thanks to a five-game winning streak to end the year. This is the Silver Stars second-straight trip to the conference finals and the only second appearance since the franchise moves to San Antonio from Utah. While in Utah the team only made two playoff appearances (2001-02) with a conference final berth that last year.
About the Sparks:
Similar to its opponent, the Sparks are giving up more points in the playoffs than they are scoring. The difference is Los Angeles is playing much better defense than it did during the regular season. The Sparks were right in the middle of the league at 74.21 ppg. on defense, but during their first playoff series they held Seattle to 65.6 ppg. However, the number four scoring team at 76.4 ppg, LA has been 12 points below that number in the playoffs. The main culprit for this is a 50-point outing in game two.
Through all the teams that have come in gone in the Western Conference, Los Angeles is the one team that has been in the hunt nearly every year. The Sparks have been in nine of the last 10 WNBA Playoffs with last year’s no-show breaking a streak of eight-consecutive playoff appearances. Los Angeles won back-to-back titles in 2001-02 and played for it all again in 2003.
The Match Up
Much like it was for Los Angeles in the opening round of the playoffs, the Western Conference finals will come down to whether its front court, led by super rookie Candace Parker and WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Lisa Leslie, can carry the team. The Sparks have no true point guard, coach Michael Cooper has gone with point guard by committee, and this will a tough task as once again they face a tough back court match up with the Siler Stars, led by four-time WNBA All-Star Becky Hammon. The Sparks advantage inside should be very prevalent when it comes to rebounding. Los Angeles led the league at 37.7 rebounds per game during the regular season while San Antonio was next to last at 32.1. Both teams’ rebounding production as dipped during the playoffs, but Los Angeles still has a big advantage at 32-to-24.
Players To Watch:
All eyes will be focused on Los Angeles’ star power in the middle with Parker and Leslie. After scoring only 21 points in the first two playoff games of her career, Parker had 20 to help LA eliminate Seattle. Leslie continues to show why she is one of the best players to ever play the game, averaging 12 points and 9.6 rebounds per game including a pair of double doubles. Forward DeLisha Milton-Jones scored 11 points in each of the first two games with the Storm, but disappeared in game three. Guards Kara Brown and Maria Ferdinand-Harris played well in game one at home, but were no where to be found on the road. They’ll need to step up their production if LA is to advances.
Just as all great players do, Becky Hammon has stepped up her play in the playoffs. She is averaging a playoff-best 19.3 ppg. Right behind her is forward Sophia Young at 19.0 ppg., including a 27-point outing in game three against Sacramento. Her offense may suffer as she’ll have a tough assignment in the post against Parker and Leslie, but given the strength of San Antonio’s back court they might not need her scoring. San Antonio has relied heavily on its starters with the opening five averaging 67.3 of its 79.3 ppg. This could become a big factor of the Silver Stars get into foul trouble.
When a good defensive team doesn’t play defense you’ve got a problem. It would be one thing if San Antonio was facing the best offense in the league, but it wasn’t. Los Angeles, on the other hand, is playing great defense right now. They were also able to go and win on Seattle’s home court against the best defensive team in the league and the Storm had the best record in the league at home. Parker is over her opening playoffs jitters and I see her leading this team into the finals. Los Angeles in three.
Posted by Dan on September 24, 2008
2008 WNBA Playoffs Recap – September 23 – No. 3 Los Angeles Sparks 71, No. 2 Seattle Storm 64
No. 3 Los Angeles Sparks 71, No. 2 Seattle Storm 64
SEATTLE – Not even the best home record in the WNBA could help the Seattle Storm. Rookie Candace Parker reminded Los Angeles fans of another spectacular rookie during the playoffs as she scored 20 points to help the No. 3 Sparks beat the No. 2 Storm, 71-64, in the opening round of the playoffs.
This was the third time the two teams have met in the playoffs with LA winning all three. In 2006 the Sparks won game three on their home court. Los Angeles swept the series in 2002. Seattle has been bounced out of the playoffs in the first round for the fourth year in a row.
The Sparks have won three of the four game three contests in their history, but this was the first time that they prevailed on the road. For the second time in four years Seattle lost a game three on its home court and they have lost all three of the game threes.
The Sparks advance to their second Western Conference Finals in the last three years. They are trying to make their first WNBA Finals since the 2003 seasons.
Los Angles will face the number one seed in the West, the San Antonio Silver Stars with the series starting on Thursday. This will be the first meeting between the two in the playoffs since the Silver Stars moved to San Antonio from Utah.
The home team won all four games of the regular season series. While the series starts in LA, it will shift back to the Lone Star State for the final two games.
Throughout the game Los Angeles kept building its lead. Seattle was only down three after Camille Little hit a pair of free throws with 1:04 left in the half. The Sparks answered with a pair of baskets, including a bucket by Temeka Johnson with seven seconds left, to send the visitors into the locker room up 42-35.
Los Angeles held Seattle to just 10 points in the third quarter to push their margin up to 59-45 with just 10 minutes left. The lead was down to 10, 61-51, at the 5:43 mark when the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Lisa Leslie had to go to the bench with her fifth foul
This allowed Seattle to get back into the game as they went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 61-58 on a pair of baskets by Sue Bird. Another Bird jumper got the Storm back within three, 65-62, but a pair of turnovers on Seattle’s next two possessions forced the Storm to foul. Los Angeles hit all six of its free throws in final 30 seconds and Seattle could only muster a pair of points the rest of the way.
After scoring 21 points in the first two WNBA playoff games of her career, Parker scored a game-high 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting. She also grabbed five rebounds and had four assists. Before she fouled out, Leslie had 15 points and seven rebounds. Marie Ferdinand-Harris added 12 points and DeLisha Milton-Jones grabbed a tied for the game high at eight rebounds.
Tanisha Wright had her best playoff game of the series, tying Parker for the game-high with 20 points to go along with six rebounds. Little was next with 17 points and Bird added 16 plus five assists.
Neither team was particularly accurate with the Sparks holding a slim 41.9 percent (26-of-62) to the Storm’s 38.1 percent (24-of-63). The difference was the foul line as Los Angeles made more free throws, 18-of-25, than Seattle took, 13-of-15.
Posted by Dan on
2008 WNBA Playoffs Recap – September 23 – No. 1 Detroit Shock 80, No. 4 Indiana Fever 61
No. 1 Detroit Shock 80, No. 4 Indiana Fever 61
DETROIT – Over the last six seasons the Detroit Shock have been the top team in the WNBA’s Eastern Conference. They are one step closer to continuing that reign by beating the Indiana Fever, 80-61, in the first round of the WNBA Playoffs.
Detroit, who has advanced to the WNBA Finals three of the last five years and won a pair of titles, moves on to face New York in the Eastern Conference Finals. The best of three series begins on Friday.
The Shock eliminated the Fever from the playoffs for the third year in a row. Last season it was in the conference finals and the year before it came in the opening round.
The game, and the Fever’s season, was nearly over before it began. Steaming from Ebony Brown being fined but not suspended after she dumped Plientte Pierson onto the court and separated her shoulder in game two, Detroit came out on fire in the first quarter.
“Obviously, that was a spectacular performance on both ends of the floor,” Shock coach Bill Laimbeer said after the game.” That was the way a championship-caliber team plays.”
Deanna Nolan and Katie Smith hit a pair of shots to help stake the Shock to a 12-0 lead at the 7:09 mark. Indiana missed its first three shots and had three turnovers before it got on the board with a Tammy Sutton-Brown jumper at 6:31.
Following a Tully Bevilaqua free throw at the 5:39 mark, the Fever would only score two more points the rest of the quarter. Detroit ended the half on a 16-2 run that was capped by a Nolan jumper to give the Shock at 30-7 lead after the first quarter.
It wouldn’t get any better for Indiana in the second quarter. The Fever would not score for nearly the first three and a half minutes on the quarter and a jumper by Nolan at the 5:34 pushed Detroit’s margin to its largest of the game, 31, at 41-10.
The lead would hover around 25 until Indiana closed the first half on a 6-2 run. Nolan hit a runner as the clock expired to send the Shock into the locker room up 49-19
Indiana would try to make a game of it in the third quarter as it cut the lead by 13. A pair of Tamika Catchings’ free throws with 52 seconds left sliced the margin to 56-43. At that point the Fever were on cruise control with most of the reserves in the game.
“I think we were stunned,” Catchings said. “There was a point where you looked up at the scoreboard and we were down by 30 in the first half, and they were still coming at us on both ends of the floor. I just wanted us to wake up.”
As one would expect in a blow out, Detroit had the advantage over Indiana in nearly every facet of the game. The Shock had six more rebounds than the Fever – with the half dozen margin coming on the offensive glass – and they forced Indiana into committing 21 turnovers. Indiana had its troubles behind the arc where it only managed to shoot 11.8 percent (2-of-17).
Four players reached 10 points or more for the Shock with another reaching nine markers. Leading the way was Nolan at 21 points. Smith was next with 15 followed by Kara Braxton (12) and Taj McWilliams-Franklin (10). Four players had five or more rebounds, led by Aleix Hornbuckle with eight boards to go along with nine points.
Leading the way for Fever in the scoring column was Sutton-Brown with 20. Catching came close to a triple-double with 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Katie Douglas had 10 points. Hoffman went scoreless, but did have 10 rebounds.