by Adrienne Goodson

Here we go again. The regular season is over and the playoffs begin tomorrow. This summer was exciting as usual in the WNBA and in China. The US won the Gold Medal and we should have because we have the best players in the world. I mean, really…Did anybody think we would lose with the stacked up team we had over there? We have so many good players that not everyone could play, but I’ll leave that alone.

Getting back on track, the Playoffs are due to be good, especially in the first round and I’m talking East and West. The key match-up in the East will be Connecticut against New York. In the West it will be Seattle against Los Angeles. The way things look right now, I’m predicting a Detroit – New York match in the East and a San Antonio – Seattle match in the West. The Brian Agler (Seattle) – Dan Hughes (SA) showdown is predestined my friends so here’s a few thoughts to get it started:

Eastern Conference

Detroit (22-12) – The Shock clinched the top seed in the playoffs and will face the Indiana Fever in the first round. Detroit came on strong late in the season, going on a four-game winning streak to surpass the seemingly complacent Sun. Despite suspensions, Cheryl Ford’s season-ending injury, roster shake ups, and a series of personnel moves, they clinched the third regular season conference title in franchise history. Head coaches Bill Laimbeer, Rick Mahorn, and Cheryl Reeve are sensational. They are a true example of how players play and coaches coach. I wonder why so many people keep trying to put other teams ahead of them?

Connecticut (21-13) – Last week the Sun looked like they secured the Eastern Conference top seed but burned out with a three-game losing streak . Even if the Shock and Sun ended the season in a tie, Detroit would get the No. 1 spot for winning the season series 2-1. The Sun definitely picked a bad time to lose focus. They will have to bring it every day against New York in the playoffs where every possession will count.

New York (19-15) – This young team has truly made a statement all season long. Janelle McCarville and Shemeka Christon have done a lot to make a name for themselves and also put this team back on its feet. The supporting cast hasn’t done too bad either. They earned the third seed in the East and will face the Sun in the first round. This series is sure to be a nail-biter and the crowd will be off the meter in both locations. New York will take that 61-59 loss to Detroit and do work on the Sun at the Garden this week for sure.

Indiana (17-17) – The Fever deserves a round of applause for making the playoffs. Despite the roster and line-up changes, injuries, a slow start, and a new head coach, kudos to this organization for surviving the tough times. They have their work cut out for them in Detroit. Tammy Sutton-Brown and Ebony Hoffman will have to get busy down low against Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Kara Braxton. The series will be good. I call it, “The battle of the boards”.

Western Conference

San Antonio (24-10) – The Silverstars are the top seed for the first time in franchise history, Becky Hammon remains hot like fire while Sophia Young and new addition Anne Wauters add salsa to the dish. They’ve come a long way and deserve the spotlight. A first round draw against Sacramento will be a gunfight but I expect the Silverstars to come out on top for various reasons – depth being first and foremost. The monarchs will duke it out as usual but San Antonio will be too much to handle on all levels. Becky is my MVP hands down…

Seattle (22-12) – Although Seattle has secured the No. 2 spot and home court advantage, overcast skies have created a storm in the area. Head Coach Brian Agler is faced with a lot of injuries to his core group of players. Sue Bird, Yolanda Griffith, Sheryl Swoopes (concussion), Swin Cash (back), and Lauren Jackson (ankle surgery) were all sidelined yesterday in the game against LA. They got torched 65-48 in the Staples Center for the last game of the season. Coach Agler said, “Our goal is to put ourselves in the best possible position to win a championship” and I believe they will. He has been one of the most intelligent coaches I have known. Seattle will need a real boost in the Playoffs especially against LA, who believes they can beat Seattle.

Los Angeles (20-14) – Showtime or go home is what it will be for LA against Seattle. The Sparks have locker room issues to overcome which is normal when one player gets all the hype. To tell you the truth, now is the time to walk the walk, stop the talk. The Seattle series will be just the place to prove it. LA got the win over Seattle (65-48), but I think it gave them a false sense of security because Seattle played without Sue Bird, Yolanda Griffith, Sheryl Swoopes, and Swin Cash. Time will tell. It always does…

Sacramento (18-15) – The fourth seed in the Western Conference plays their heart out and often reminds me of the little engine that could. They get all of their energy from the crowd and the Maloof brothers on a regular, but it’s lights out against San Antonio. The effort will be there as usual but the Silverstars have been playing for keeps since day one. Rebekkah Brunson and Kara Lawson just don’t have the fire power in the shootout.

We’ll have to see what happens when the ball gets tossed-up on Thursday around the WNBA. These teams were predicted to be here in the beginning but only one will remain standing in the end. I have a feeling about San Antonio, but LA and Seattle will push for the crown as well. In the East, Detroit will come out again and again until someone can play chess with Bill. I’m just saying…