WNBA Playoffs 2011: Atlanta Dream Advance To East Finals
The Atlanta Dream defeated the Connecticut Sun 69-64 Sunday night to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
In the best-of-three series, the Dream effectively limited the impact of Tina Charles, the Sun's best player. Against Atlanta's tough defense, Charles averaged just 12.5 points per game on 31.3 percent shooting, after posting averages of 17.7 PPG and 46.8 percent from the field this season. In the decisive Game 2, the 6-foot-4-inch center grabbed 17 rebounds, only to see her team get out-rebounded by the Dream, 42-37.
With the win, the Dream will take on the winner of the other Eastern Conference Semifinal, the New York Liberty versus the Indiana Fever.
New York and Indiana face off Monday night in an elimination game. Fortunately for the Fever, the game will be played in Indiana where they won 13 of 17 games this season. New York was a below-average road team this year, winning fewer than half of their contests.
Katie Douglas has had a tremendous series for the Fever, recording 25 and 20 points in the first and second game, respectively. She's easily her team's best three-point shooter.
Cappie Pondexter is undoubtedly the Liberty's top player, but the team's role players will be the key in Game 3. If the 5-foot-9 guard can get help from her supporting cast (players like Plenette Pierson and Nicole Powell), the Liberty have a good chance of achieving the road upset. If not, expect the Fever to be celebrating Monday night.
The Fever won the head-to-head season series 3-2.
Deadlocked Out West
Both Western Semifinals are tied at one game apiece.
Many analysts and fans are surprised that the San Antonio Silver Stars are still alive and kicking. The Silver Stars, a very mediocre team during the season, had the bad fortune of drawing the dominant Minnesota Lynx in the opening round. The Lynx went 27-7 this season and finished off strong, wining 9 of their last 10 games.
To the Silver Stars' credit, they are fighting extremely hard for their playoff lives. They lost Game 1 by a mere point and were able to hold serve at home in Game 2 behind strong performances by Sophia Young and Jia Perkins.
Game 3 will be played on Tuesday night in Minnesota.
Storm Meet Mercury
The Seattle Storm and Phoenix Mercury will meet on Monday night, and the winner will be rewarded with a spot in the Western Conference Finals.
The Mercury's Diana Taurasi is the most exciting part of the series, as she is such an explosive offensive player. The former UConn Huskie laid an egg in Game 1, connecting on just 3 of 11 shots in a loss. Taurasi played a lot better in Game 2, en route to a 9-point Phoenix victory.
Candace Dupree outshone her teammate Taurasi in Game 2, and absolutely dominated inside for the Mercury. If Seattle's Lauren Jackson is not able to do a better defensive job on Dupree, the Mercury will take Game 3.
Seattle has the advantage of playing the all-important Game 3 at home, where the Storm lost just twice in 17 games this year. Sue Bird and company are definitely favored going in to Game 3, but stay tuned to see if Diana Taurasi and the Mercury have any magic up their sleeves.