The cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the closing scene of the series finale together sang, “It’s a long, long way to Tipperary.” To initially begin our WNBA playoffs discussion, we note that it’s simply a long, long way to seven wins, the required number needed to capture a championship trophy next month.
Winning the first in a best-of-three series generally puts additional pressure on the other team that now must win the next two contests to advance. Several “insiders” recently shared their thoughts and prognostications with the MSR on the 2013 WNBA eight-team playoffs that begin Thursday.
“I think it will be a battle between those two [on] who will come out of the West,” says Indiana Coach Lin Dunn on Minnesota and Los Angeles, seeded one and two respectively in the West. Asked about her club’s
post-season chances, Dunn says, “Right now we’re not a great team, but we got a chance.”
“It doesn’t matter where you are going into the playoffs as long as you get in,” adds Indiana forward Tamika Catchings on the Fever’s 4th-seed position in the East. The 2012 defending champs will play No. 1-seed Chicago.
“When we get into the playoffs, it’s our own destiny,” notes Indiana guard Shavonte Zellous, a member of the 2012 defending champions. “We are going to make a good run,” predicts Zellous. “I’m ready.”
“It gets down to dead-ball situations after timeouts and free throws, because teams are so familiar [with each other]. That’s where the games are going to be won,” believes Chicago Coach Pokey Chatman.
“We’re a team that is still improving,” claims 4th-seeded Seattle Coach Brian Agler, whose team plays top-seed Minnesota Friday. Game 2 is Sunday in Seattle, and if necessary, Game 3 will be next Tuesday in Minnesota. The two teams also played each other last season in the first round. “Our series last year ended up being a one-possession series,” recalls Agler.
Local WNBA Analyst Lea B. Olsen predicts a Minnesota-Los Angeles West finals. “I think Minnesota is the team to beat in the West. They have a chip on their shoulders from [losing] last year. I think Los Angeles is the real run-and-gun team. They have the bodies and the physicality, and their athleticism is off the charts,” she points out.
Every season, a player or two emerges virtually out of nowhere — the “X” factor that helpS her team win a title. Olsen names this year’s notables:
Indiana: “I think Tamika Catchings is that player.”
Chicago: Rookie Elena Delle Donne “has changed the look on that team.”
Atlanta: “It’s [guard Angel] McCoughtry for sure. I also like [center Erika] de Souza.”
Washington: “They don’t have that one big player. They need the first five players [who start] to play at the top of their game. It’s difficult to win in the playoffs that way.”
Seattle: “The Storm is so much about Agler and his coaching style.”
Phoenix: “I think that team always will be behind [guard Diana] Taurasi, but she’s got to let other people in.”
Los Angeles: “The one thing about them is that their chemistry can be a little weird or be a little flaky. You are never sure what everyone is going to give or who is going to be unselfish.”
Minnesota: “It’s [forward] Maya Moore this year. I believe she can go to another gear for the playoffs.”
Chatman points out that this time of the season is fun: “It is the first run at it,” she notes on her club’s first-ever playoff appearance. “I hope they enjoy it.”
Note: Washington rookie guard Tayler Hill is the only Minneapolis native playing in this year’s post-season.
Read more 2013 WNBA playoff observations on this week’s MSR website.