There are some new teams meeting in the finals. The Washington Mystics will make their first appearance in team history, while Seattle hasn’t made it this far since 2010 when they beat Atlanta.
In what had been a highly entertaining regular season, the excitement carried over to the semi-finals. Seattle needed three chances to pick up their third win to eliminate Phoenix after DeWanna Bonner and Diana Taurasi did their best to continue their season. Seattle trailed heading into the fourth quarter before Sue Bird went off for 14 points over the final six minutes to power Seattle to the finals.
Washington had to overcome an injury scare to Elena Delle Donne, who suffered two bruised bones at the end of Game 2 and missed Game 3, to win the final two games over Atlanta, including game five in Atlanta.
The finals will force two of the game’s top players into what should be a head-to-head match-up with Delle Donne matching up with MVP Breanna Stewart. Both power forwards are the key to their team’s offences with their playmaking and three-point shooting. Both teams are built around their stars with spread out offences that were the two most reliant in the league on getting their scoring from long-range. Seattle are also stiff defensively, allowing opponents to connect on only 33.8% of threes, which tied them for third best in the league. Although, this will be the weakest three-point defence Washington has faced after already beating Los Angeles and Atlanta.
If you are looking for a difference in the teams then the star power of Stewart’s supporting cast should tilt the series in their favour. Jewell Loyd may have been shut down by Briann January after scoring 26 in Game 1 against Phoenix, but the Mystics don’t have anyone who can lock Loyd down. This is bad news for Washington since Seattle is 11-0 when Loyd reaches 20 points. Once you add Hall of Famer Sue Bird and breakout sensation Natasha Howard the Storm will have many options to fill the basket with.
For the Mystics the path to success will come through slowing the game down and dominating the glass. Washington was 15-2 when they out-rebounded their opponents. With enough offensive rebounds the Mystics will be hoping to reach the 90-point mark (which gave them a 12-1 record this year) or prevent Seattle from getting second chances to keep them under 80 since they were 17-1 when their opponent failed to reach 80 points.
Overall, the Storm were the best team in the league for a reason this season, while Washington’s star is still limited due to her injury. With that said and with both teams relying on threes the way they do, Washington can win one game. So my final prediction, after being perfect so far these playoffs, is Seattle in four.
The best-of-five series begins Friday, September 7 at 9pm EST in Seattle.
Game 2: Sun., Sept. 9 at 3pm
Game 3: Wed., Sept. 12 at 8pm
Game 4: Fri., Sept. 14 at 8pm
Game 5: Sun., Sept. 16 at 8pm