A look at the two conference finals series in the WNBA playoffs, which start Friday:
No. 2 Indiana (16-18) vs. No. 4 Chicago (15-19)
Season Series: Fever won 3-2.
Indiana: The Fever cruised through the opening round, sweeping the two games from Washington. That win postponed the retirement of coach Lin Dunn. Now the Fever will try to reach the WNBA Finals for the second time in three seasons and send Dunn out as a champion. Indiana has reached the conference finals seven times in the past 10 seasons.
Chicago: It took one of the biggest comebacks in league history for the Sky to win their first playoff series and Elena Delle Donne was a big reason why, scoring 17 points in the fourth quarter to rally her team from a 16-point deficit. Chicago had problems matching up with the Fever’s physicality in the playoffs last year and will need to match Indiana’s energy.
Both of the Sky’s wins over the Dream came in the last few seconds, so if they can hang around the Fever they’ll have a chance.
Prediction: Sky in 3.
No. 1 Phoenix (29-5) vs. No. 2 Minnesota (25-9)
Season Series: Mercury won 3-1.
Phoenix: The Mercury picked up where the regular season ended, sweeping past Los Angeles. Brittney Griner put her own stamp on the series with the first dunk in WNBA playoff history. Phoenix will be looking for a measure of revenge against Minnesota, which knocked the Mercury out of the playoffs last season and ended their 16-game winning streak earlier this year. Between Diana Taurasi, Griner, Penny Taylor and Candice Dupree, the Mercury can put points on the board. They’ll need to figure a way to stop Minnesota’s big three of Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus.
Minnesota: The defending champion Lynx struggled a little bit against an inspired San Antonio squad. Minnesota did come away with the two-game sweep, but had to work for it. The Lynx will be trying to reach the finals for a fourth straight year, matching Houston as the only franchises in league history to accomplish that feat. Moore has had the best season of her career en route to winning her first MVP award. She’ll need Whalen and Augustus to play well, and Rebekkah Brunson and Janel McCarville will be key in trying to slow down Griner.
Prediction: Mercury in 3.
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