By Lauren Rosenberg and Kyle Jones
The second round of the WNBA playoffs has come and gone and now it’s time for semi-finals.
Game 1 concluded with the host team Connecticut Sun topping the The Los Angeles Sparks 84-75, while the host team Washington Mystics snuck away from the Las Vegas Aces in a tight matchup with a score of 97-95.
Sun and Sparks (Kyle)
The Sun put on a show in Game 1, winning 84-75, with four players reaching double figures. Alyssa Thomas was the definitive star of the show, with a double-double (10 rebounds and 22 points).
For the Sun, being overlooked and underrated has been the story of the year. Preseason polls didn’t have them going anywhere near the playoffs, but they stunned the WNBA and emerged as one of if not the top teams.
There is no true star leader on this squad. No Brittney Griner to hang at the post, no Liz Cambage to go on the cover of magazines, no Elena Delle Donne to win an MVP. Instead the Sun have one of the most talented all-around starting fives in the league.
There is no standout because, as mentioned before, everyone performs like All-Stars. In Game 2, four players reached double figures. As we head to the pivotal Game 3, the Sun are in full control.
The LA Sparks are a different story. Led by Candace Parker and the Ogwumike sisters, one would expect the team from the City of Angels to do a bit better. Instead, the players who have taken a back seat to Parker and the Ogwumikes’ spotlight are underperforming, to the detriment of the rest of the squad.
Parker did her job in Game 1, with 24 points and 10 rebounds, but aside from Nneka Ogwumike’s double-double (20 points and 10 rebounds) no other player reached double figures.
In Game 2, Parker fell off. 3 points in her 26 minutes of play is unacceptable of a player of her caliber in a playoff situation. Even though four Sparks players reached double figures, including both Ogwumike sisters, it wasn’t nearly enough to cover and all-around great performance by the Sun. The 94-68 loss put the Sparks on the brink of elimination.
The Sparks are going to have to get their stuff together, and get Candace Parker and the rest of the squad rolling at the same time. Or else, their playoff run is at an end
Mystics and Aces (Lauren)
Game 1: The game was all about the bigs as it was a battle between arguably three of the most dominant post players in the league, minus Mercury Brittany Grinter.
The Mystics were led by star center and 2019 league MVP Elena Delle Donne and forward Emma Meesseman. The Aces were led by their dynamic paint duo, A’ja Wilson and Liz Cambage.
Washington played through Meessseman and Delle Donne, feeding them in the post. They were responsible for 51 of the 97 points or 53%. Meessseman dominated the boards, pulling in 10 rebounds to secure a double-double (27 points and 10 rebounds) while Delle Donne recorded 24 points and pulled in 6 rebounds and dished out 6 assists. The only other Mystics player to record double-digit points was guard Natasha Cloud who recorded 12 points. The inside game was key to this Mystics Game 1 win, as the guard and outside play were very minimal.
Las Vegas had three players who recorded double digit numbers. Center Liz Cambage, forward A’ja Wilson, guard Kayla McBride and 6th woman guard Kelsey Plum all dominated for a well-balanced inside and outside play. They combined for 77 of their 95 points or 81%.
Wilson recorded 23 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks, McBride recorded 19 points, Plum nearly recorded a triple-double recording 16 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists and Cambage dominated the paint recording a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds.
The game was incredibly close throughout the entirety of it. The largest lead was 11 in the Mystics favor which only happened in the first quarter. Otherwise, the game was held very close with several lead changes throughout it.
The Aces last hope was with 28 seconds left in the game. Plum drove through the lane for a finger role that shortened the gap to 2. Delle Donne missed a mid-range jumper to extend the lead. Cambage grabbed the board and missed the shot securing a Mystics victory.
The key for both teams is to dominate their inside presence while also having the ability to drain shots from the perimeter.
The Mystics will need to shut down Plum on the perimeter while also limiting the dominance of the Aces twin towers.
The Aces will need to shut down Delle Donne and Meessseman in the post while continuing to limit Delle Donne’s rebounding and keep her to under double digits.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org