New York vs. Washington
The Ladies of Liberty versus the Strumpets of Satan
Quick game preview. I got things to do and people to see. Besides, everyone knows what needs to be done. Play the whole bench, take out players if they're not doing well, keep the ball moving, make quality shots, etc...
The Mystics, who started off the season 0-7, are now in sole possession of 4th place and the final playoff spot. They're magic number is 1, which means that if either they win or the Libs lose, the Mystics are in the post-season (due to them having the tie-breaker). It makes this game simple, then: if the Liberty lose, the Mystics are in.
Strong play in the second half (aided by a timely trade of Chasity Melvin to the Sky for Monique Currie) has propelled Washington to the ridge of respectability. Their defense, once the worst in the league (behind even the Lynx) stands strong now, as the guards have taken charge and anchor a swinging zone. Their offense has perked up, as well
The Liberty can't take any chances with these guys. They're rebounding has turned super-solid, and any errant shots or passes will almost inevitably lead to an odd-woman rush. The Mystics suffer no fools, and the Libs are going to need to bring their A-game if they don't want to suffer another humiliating defeat like their last bout with Washington (80-68... ugh).
So, here's how it's done; we play up to our level. As evidenced by our win over the Shock (albeit a day after they had played a tough game against Indiana), we can hang with any team in the league as long as everybody plays up to their ability and when players aren't doing well, they're pulled. McCarville is going to have to keep producing at the level she's been doing, while Kraayeveld will need to pick up on defense. Moore, Christon, and Thorn need to be more consistent, and Davenport and Jackson should see playing time if they're doing well (as they have been doing in the last few games). Keep it simple and play strong ball; the Mystics are good, but they aren't fantastic. We can beat them, especially if we keep our defense strong. Focus on the positive and deal with the negatives as they arise.
- Rebounds. We've routinely been outrebounded. We need to pick it up, because Washington will shove any open ball down our throat.
- Less bad passing. Turnovers lead to points against, and we've pushed a lot of bad passes to set up mediocre shots. Let the play unfold naturally and one will find an open shot or player.
- Three-Pointers. Washington is still weak from outside the arc. We haven't been hot, either, but we're definitely over-due for a long-ball game update.
- Forget the past. The past is prologue. Right now, we need to win three games to even consider getting in the playoffs. Ignore eveything that happened before and focus on winning.
That's it. Take it to 'em, ladies.
Connecticut 77, Fever 74
Sacramento 81, Silver Stars 74
The Fever and the Sun will play each other in the first round no matter what, and this game was a good forecast of what could happen. The 1st and 4th quarters were relatively evenly matched, and if Catchings were playing, that could shift the balance of power. The 2nd and 3rd, however, were something else, as first the Sun smashed through the formally impenetrable Fever Defense, and then the Fever returned the favor. Props to Indiana for managing to almost come back, but the Sun were able to right their ship late in the game, which is a good indication of post-season success. Indiana better have had their notebooks open; they'll have to watch out for Connecticut in the playoffs.
Sacramento took advantage of an exhausted San Antonio like the Stars were a drunken prom queen. True, their much-touted defense once again worked only SO well, but they managed to get together and score the points needed and keep Becky Hammon rather isolated. Three starters for the Silver Stars scored most of the points, and the rest of the team chipped in a bit, but Sacramento knew what they were doing. This is another probable first-round match-up. It's going to be an interesting postseason, that's for sure.
Chicago @ Houston
Boy, is this easy. The Shock (THE best team in the league) versus the Lynx (the WORST team in the league). The Shock could spot the Lynx ten points and still come out on top. If you need any reasoning for this choice, you haven't been following the WNBA for that long. Shock by 11.
Both the Sky and Comets are out of the playoffs, but both managed to do a lot with very little this season. Both started off weak, managed to put together a decent middle of the season, and then faded near the finish line. On paper, the Sky are a better team, but Houston plays better as a cohesive unit, and their home record isn't so bad, considering their overall record. If Melvin is still out with her eye, then it will make things a whole lot simpler for Houston. Comets by 5.
I'm heading out of the city in the afternoon and will be gone for a while, but I will probably have internet access at various points. Posts will be smaller than normal, however, and I might not get around to doing the special posts (essay for today is probably cancelled as well). I might not be posting tomorrow, as I will be travelling for most of the day, but if I get a chance, I might throw something together in the late evening. Keep your fingers crossed for me, and while you're at the games, make sure to give the Libs a big cheer for The Writer. Until my next post, then?
See ya, Space Cowboy...