Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Who: The Atlanta Dream (18-16) take on the Detroit Shock (18-16) in a playoff game.
The Dream have a cast including Angel McCoughtry (12.8 ppg) and Sancho Lyttle (13.0 ppg, 7.5 prg). Iziane Castro Marques (14.4 ppg) leads the team in scoring. Deanna Nolan is back (16.9 ppg) for the Mystics and rookie Shavonte Zellous (11.9 ppg) helps an injury-riddled Shock team.
What: The first of a best-of-three Eastern Conference Semifinals play-off series. Atlanta won the season series against Detroit 3-1. They were 2-0 at Philips Arena and 1-1 at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Detroit avoided the season sweep the last time these teams met, as the Dream lost 87-83 in Detroit.
Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn, MI.
When: Tipoff is 8:30 pm Eastern on Wednesday, September 16th. The game will be nationally broadcast on ESPN2, with a special "WNBA Shootaround" starting at 8 pm. The game should also be available on WNBA Live Access.
Why: You actually need a reason? This is the playoffs, baby! Expect Great! One Team One Dream!
Seriously though, there is a good chance that the Eastern Conference Champion might come out of this bracket. Yes, Indiana has the better season record but seemed to fade away after they locked in their post-season appearance. Washington snuck in on a wing and a prayer. Whereas Detroit is the hottest team in the WNBA right now, and Atlanta is no slouch, beating that team 3 out of 4 times.
If there was an argument against the 11-player roster, this might be it. Each team has been adversely impacted by injuries, leaving who will actually play in this game a question mark. Marynell Meadors remains mum as to whether Chamique Holdsclaw will make an appearance during this playoff run - my estimates are at about 80 percent. Those close to Shalee Lehning state that Lehning has had surgery on her injured shoulder, but Mechelle Voepel implies that Lehning will play and the Dream ain't saying "no". Detroit's Katie Smith is hurt and Alexis Hornbuckle suffered a hamstring injury in the final game of the regular season against Chicago. The series should be sponsored by Johnson and Johnson.
Detroit would be a monster team - if they were healthy. In the end, it might come down to the bench - Atlanta has one, and Detroit doesn't. Yeah, you might laugh at Atlanta's bench but to paraphrase Geno Auriemma, "We have Angel, and you don't." However, Detroit's plays the first of the three games at home and they know if they don't win, the chances are good that this might be the final game the Shock play this year in Detroit.
Extra: Read Bob Corwin's Full Court Press article on the breakdown of the series. Mechelle Voepel also has a few words at ESPN.