Howard: Okay, let’s hit the big topic for each of you. Brendon, you’ve been on top of this Phoenix Mercury team all season long. Do you think that Brittney Griner is ready to win a playoff series all by herself? Not that she’ll need to, with Taurasi and Griner, but doesn’t it feel like that’s where her game is now?
Brendon: Her performance against the Dream last Friday certainly gives credence to your idea, Howard. She has developed the sort of all-around offensive game that could defeat any opponent all by itself, and Phoenix loaded up on shooting this offseason and is playing smaller to open the floor for Griner.
That said, she hasn’t quite been as excellent as I was expecting following a season in Russia without Diana Taurasi and more defensive support up and down the roster. I honestly believed she’d be even better, but that may not be fair.
Howard: There’s no such thing as a Brittney Griner ceiling, and I feel like that works against her sometimes, despite what is clearly an inner circle HOF career track.
Brendon: For sure. It always feels like there’s more she could be doing, but we’re talking about someone who just played 38 minutes in a statement game and put up 33-18-7 against one of the best defenses in the league. I mean, come on
The Cambage-Griner battle tonight may be the highlight of the opening games.
Howard: Been psyched for these, and vs. Fowles, like few other things this season. But man, Lynx-Sparks is pretty special, too. Ben, you’ll be live at that one, what are you thinking about as you ponder what you’re about to see?
Ben: Neil Olstad and I spoke about this on yesterday’s pod. Now is the chance for the Sparks to take care of business at home against Minnesota. They had the opportunity to close the Lynx out in back-to-back seasons in the Finals but failed to do so both times.
Rachel: I agree, Ben. The Lynx sort of have their number in this type of setting! I predict a Minnesota win
Ben: But the Lynx have the star power in Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles to match the Sparks punch for punch. I’m not sure how much of Lindsay Whalen we’ll see tonight, but I’ve got a feeling Seimone Augustus will rise to the occasion to be that third scorer to really give them a lift to make this a one possession game with 5:00 on the clock. Let’s not forget last year in the playoffs this is a player that shot 10-18 from 3 and 21-37 (56%) from the midrange.
Rachel: Zandalasini could come up key as well! They may need her to.
Howard: Especially if Brunson is limited/out, Cheryl Reeve has been playing the big four with Ceci