With the WNBA playoffs started, teams have a deeper desire to win as they compete to make it to the finals.
After winning in the first round of single elimination against the Chicago Sky, the Connecticut Sun advance to the second round, which is also single elimination. The Sun will be taking on the Los Angeles Sparks as they look for the upset. During the regular season, the Sun went 0-2 against the Sparks, resulting in a similar score in both games.
The Sun and the Sparks met last season in the playoff semifinals. The Sparks were swept 3-0 by the Sun, and the Sun advanced to the finals where they went on to play the Washington Mystics. During last season’s semifinals, Candace Parker was benched in the last quarter of the last game against the Sun. Alongside Nneka Ogumike and Chelsea Gray, she is back with a fierceness and desire to win. DeWanna Bonner and the Sun will not make Parker’s agenda easy, especially in the paint. In her first season with the Sun, Bonner has stepped up tremendously to get her team to this point and is complimented by the works of Alyssa Thomas.
The Phoenix Mercury fought until the final buzzer for a right to advance to the second round. As the clock wound down in their first-round matchup against the Mystics, Skylar Diggins-Smith penetrated the left side of the court only to find an open Shey Peddy on the right wing. Peddy then knocked down a three, leading the Mercury to victory at the buzzer. After a high-intensity win against the defending WNBA champions, Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi, who lead the Mercury across the board, must prepare, alongside their teammates, to face the Minnesota Lynx.
In regular season play, the Lynx and Mercury went 1-1 against each other, yet this is a different Lynx team than what the Mercury faced in their last matchup. Sylvia Fowels, who sat out for a calf injury, is expected to return, making the Lynx’s interior game stronger, especially with Damiris Dantas inside who was forced to step up in Fowels’ absence. WNBA Coach of the Year Cheryl Reeve has expressed confidence in her team and in Fowels’ return in particular. The Lynx have built a dynamic team and are the only team to use a second-round draft pick on a player who would win Rookie of the Year in the award’s 22 years of existence. Crystal Dangerfield leads the Lynx in scoring this season and will be a player to look out for in this matchup. While Diggins-Smith and Taurasi have been carrying their team throughout the season, versatility within the team may be needed as they advance in the playoffs.
The Las Vegas Aces, with the WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson, and Seattle Storm await the winners of the second round in preparation for the semifinals, which are set to begin on Sunday.