2011 WNBA playoff predictions
WNBA champion will be decided in Western Conference Finals
First things first, we will start right here at home with the Seattle Storm. The Storm are the No.2 seed in the WNBA's Western Conference and face the Phoenix Mercury in the opening round of the playoffs. The Mercury are always dangerous with Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor on their side, but the Storm have won 10 of the last 11 games played with the Mercury and I don't see that changing in this series. Taurasi's scoring ability will make this series, at the very least, fun to watch, but will not be enough.
My prediction: Storm win 2-0.
The other Western Confernce matchup features the Minnesota Lynx and the San Antonio Silver Stars. The Silver Stars started out the season quite strong, but struggled mightily down the stretch. With that said, Sophia Young, Becky Hammon, Danielle Robinson and Danielle Adams make up a very fomidable squad. The Lynx though, dominated the entire WNBA, coming up one win short of the regular-season record for wins in a season. Maya Moore is without question the Rookie of the Year and Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson have all been, at one point or another, MVP candidates.
My prediction: Lynx win 2-0.
Out East, the No.1 seed Indiana Fever and No.4 seed New York Liberty meet in the first round and it kicks off Thursday in Indianapolis. For me, this is a tough series to call. Almost wire-to-wire, the Fever have been the top team in the Eastern Conference, while the Liberty have skated by in the No.3 spot for most of the season, before being passed by Atlanta very late. New York has Cappie Pondexter, who has the ability to take over a game like almost nobody else in the league, but my guess is the Fever won't allow her to. Tamika Catchings is one of the best defenders in the WNBA and with her offensive abilities along with Katie Douglas, I don't see New York winning this series.
My prediction: Indiana 2-1.
The other Eastern Conference series is quite intriguing. The No.2 seed Connecticut Sun and No.3 seed Atlanta Dream square off in the first round and it is my belief that the winner of this series will move on to the WNBA Finals. Tina Charles is probably the most dominant post player in the league right now, my apoligies to Chicago's Sylvia Fowles, and the Sun have a very deep and balanced team. The Atlanta Dream on the other hand, have been there before, just last year. The Dream lost to the Storm 3-0 in the WNBA Finals, but proved to themselves and everybody else that they could play with the Storm. And as if it were possible, Angel McCoughtry has gotten even better this season.
My prediction: Atlanta 2-1.
That sets up an Indiana and Atlanta Eastern Conference Final. Again, McCoughtry's improvement mixed with the depth of the Dream and the experience factor from last year should be enough for the Dream to return to the WNBA Finals.
My Eastern Conference Finals prediction: Atlanta 2-1.
Then of course we have the match up of last year's dominant team vs. this year's dominant team. The depth of the Lynx is scary. There four stars are as good of collection of talent as there is in the league. But the Storm have quite the collection themselves. Minnesota having home-court advantage really hurts the Storm, but I have a theory in this series. My thoughts are that Minnesota did not do themselves any favors by beating the Storm in Seattle earlier in the year and ending Seattle's 23-game home winning-streak. That victory makes it virtually impossible for the Lynx to beat Seattle in the one game at KeyArena in the series. Seattle simply does not lose at home unless it is caught napping by an opponent and when Minnesota won earlier in the year, all it did was wake up the Storm. All the Storm need to do then is steal one game in Minnesota. Lauren Jackson is healthy, Sue Bird is playing near the top of her game and Katie Smith has finally come on. This is a veteran-savvy team and I think they find a way to steal Game 1 in Minnesota.
My Western Conference Finals prediction: Seattle 2-0, although the series will fell and play much closer than a sweep.
That leaves us with a rematch of the 2010 WNBA Finals. Seattle will once again face Atlanta. My gut tells me not to pick against the Storm, but my brain is telling me to choose carefully. I said earlier that Seattle simply doesn't lose at home unless they are caught napping. Well in most cases that is true except earlier in the year when Seattle got blown out by 29 points at KeyArena by the Dream. Atlanta proved they could play with Seattle last year and it proved on that night that they could beat them. But Atlanta is hurt by one thing, the WNBA Finals format, which is best-of-five and in this series, the Storm would have home-court advantage. Atlanta will steal one game from Seattle at KeyArena, but the Storm will do the same in one of their two games in Atlanta to offset it.
My WNBA Finals prediction: Seattle 3-2.
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