WHAT. A. NIGHT.
There is nothing quite like playoff basketball. The excruciating pain or overwhelming joy that can be decided in a matter of seconds is why so many people love sports.
Tuesday night provided everything a fan could ask for, with four teams leaving it all on the court in the first round. The action began with the 6 seed Chicago Sky taking on the 7 seed Connecticut Sun.
After a first half of competitive basketball, the Sun’s inside prowess was too much for the Sky to overcome. With a rebounding margin of 40-21, Chicago had no ability to secure the basketball off the boards, especially on defense, where Connecticut racked up 17 offensive boards.
Alyssa Thomas was the leader of the offensive rebounding movement, securing a playoff record 10 of those 17. In a single game elimination series where every possession counts, allowing 17 extra possessions for the opposition is detrimental to any chance of winning.
The Sky committed another cardinal sin of playoff basketball, shooting fouls. Connecticut made them pay, shooting 27/29 from the charity stripe compared to 13/16 for Chicago.
Thomas finished with an impressive 26 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists with DeWanna Bonner adding 23 and 12. Allie Quigley had 19 for a Sky team who have a good mix of veteran and young players and will be expected to compete in the 2021 season.
The Sun will meet the Los Angeles Sparks in the second round, with Derek Fisher’s squad hoping for a different result than last postseason. The Sun swept the Sparks 3-0 in the semifinals, but LA has had Connecticut’s number this year, winning both matchups. The forward competition of Thomas and Bonner versus Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike will be the most intriguing aspect of the game.
If basketball games were only three quarters, the Washington Mystics would be celebrating a relatively easy victory over the Phoenix Mercury and would be preparing for their second round matchup. Unfortunately for the former champs, you’ve got to finish out those last 10 minutes.
Down 11 points going into the 4th, the Mercury came storming back behind Kia Vaughn and Skylar Diggins-Smith trading buckets to start the quarter, while the defense led by Brianna Turner held the Mystics scoreless for 5 minutes and 45 seconds straight.
After Leilani Mitchell’s free throw put the Mystics ahead by 2 with 5.8 seconds left, Phoenix took a timeout to draw up a final play. The result is better viewed that explained.
After getting waived by Washington earlier in the season, Shey Peddy is the hero for the Mercury as her corner three sets up a date with the Minnesota Lynx in the second round.
The Lynx and Mercury will be a battle of youth versus experience, with Crystal Dangerfield and Napheesa Collier poised to take on the one and only Diana Taurasi.
After an eventful first round of WNBA playoff action, the postseason drama has just gotten underway!