WNBA Playoffs Preview: What to expect in the WNBA semifinals

WNBA Playoffs Preview: What to expect in the WNBA semifinals

The Sky were 3-7 in the routine season when they shot 30 percent or less from three-point variety.
This will be their second win of the playoffs where they shot less than 30 percent from that area if they win tonight.
Nothing beats playoff basketball.
— James Kay (@James_M_Kay) September 26, 2021.

The preliminary of the WNBA playoffs included a set of unexpected upsets. Will the WNBA semifinals provide more of the same?
After 2 rounds of single-elimination video games, its time for the WNBA Semifinals, which differ from the first two rounds because these are real series. Four groups will take on in best-of-five series, with the No. 1 seed Connecticut Sun dealing with the No. 6 seed Chicago Sky, while the No. 2 seed Las Vegas Aces play the No. 5 seed Phoenix Mercury.
And yep, that indicates that the last round included two upsets, as the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds are gone. Seattle sans Breanna Stewart just couldnt muster up enough to pull off an overtime win over the Mercury in what might have been– but ideally wasnt– Sue Birds last video game, and the Sky distressed the Lynx in a video game that wasnt as close as the scoreboard suggested.
So, we now come to the semis. 4 teams are entrusted to a shot to win it all. What should we anticipate in these video games?
WNBA Playoffs: Connecticut vs. Chicago
Regular-season series: 2-1 Chicago
Jonquel Jones.
Its a name youre going to hear a lot over the next few weeks. The presumptive 2021 WNBA MVP, Jones is perhaps the most significant mismatch in the WNBA today.
I imply, Jones is a big. She led the league in rebounds per game. She was 10th in blocks per game, just ahead of Aja Wilson. She was fifth in two-point field goal portion. Per Positive Residual, she was initially in general Defensive Estimated Contribution.
Jones also took place to shoot 36.2 percent from 3 and included 2.8 helps per video game. Its so difficult to beat her– I indicate, look at her shot chart, per the WNBA.

Jones shot above league average in each of the significant zones. She took 113 non-corner threes, while taking just 55 mid-range shots– a truly terrific shot profile that assisted fuel the Sun to the leagues second-best offending score.
However much more excellent than Jones and the offense is what the Sun do on the other end.
The team enabled 93.7 points per 100 possessions, the finest mark in the league by a great margin. Vegas was second, enabling 98.0 points. That permitted the sun to have a net rating of plus-13.2, the very best in the league and equivalent to Seattles plus-14.5 net ranking last year. That Storm team went 6-0 in the postseason.
Jonquel Jones and Briann January were named to the All-Defensive First Team. Jasmine Thomas and Brionna Jones were All-Defensive Second Team.
While defense is the calling card of the Sun, offense is what Chicago does … or, at least, its supposed to be. The team was seventh in offensive rating this season, a surprise considering that the team added Candace Parker to a group that was 5th in offending ranking in 2020.
According to Positive Residuals on/off information, the Sky had a 102.7 offending rating this year. But that moved up to 104.3 when Parker was on the floor.
In fact, the Sky looked truly, truly excellent in the minutes they received from Parker. With her on the flooring, the Sky had an adjusted net rating of 7.9. With her off, the adjusted net ranking was 1.7.
And hey, the Sky won 2 of the 3 conferences with Connecticut this year!
( Oh, wait, Connecticut didnt have Jonquel Jones for any of those video games. I dislike how all 3 contests were stacked so close together on the schedule, because theyre essentially useless in terms of anticipating. Chicago played so well when these teams fulfilled, however the Sun were without the leagues finest player.).
Chicago can make this a competitive series. They have the personnel to shoot their method into any game, even if the shooting has actually been off so far in the playoffs:.

Four groups are left with a shot to win it all. Jonquel Jones and Briann January were called to the All-Defensive First Team. Jasmine Thomas and Brionna Jones were All-Defensive Second Team. Chicago played so well when these groups fulfilled, but the Sun were without the leagues best gamer.).
No team made more non-RA paint shots per video game than Vegas, who averaged 8.8 of them on 45.2 percent shooting, the second-best percentage in the league.

Still, the Sun have been so much better than everyone else this year when playing at complete strength. They can bully any team on both ends.
WNBA Playoffs: Las Vegas vs. Phoenix.
Regular-season series: 2-1 Vegas.
Do y all like bigs? Due to the fact that this series features some of the best: Phoenixs Brittney Griner and the Aces two-headed monster upfront with Aja Wilson and Liz Cambage.
Vegas shot 66.3 percent in the limited location in the routine season, while the Mercury shot 60.5 percent. No group made more non-RA paint shots per video game than Vegas, who balanced 8.8 of them on 45.2 percent shooting, the second-best percentage in the league. Phoenix was right behind them, shooting 44.3 percent on those efforts.
These groups both have some similar strengths. The Cambage/Wilson frontcourt has a lot more offending advantage than the Griner/Brianna Turner frontcourt, mainly due to the fact that Turners offensive game isnt where it needs to be yet, however both groups have the capability to overwhelm opponents upfront.
Phoenix does try more Threes. The Mercury are 5th in 3-point attempts at 21.8 per game. The Aces are last– once again!– at 13.5 per video game.
Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer has actually never really adjusted to 3-pointification of the WNBA. Phoenix has Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi who can drill some shots from deep, however Phoenix didnt even have Taurasi when they beat Vegas.
What Vegas does have going for them this year that wasnt present last year is that there are players who can get hot from deep. Chelsea Gray shot 38.0 percent from deep this year. Kelsey Plum shot 38.6 percent.
Vegas can win a shootout now if they need to. They can get back into a game. Since they have the leagues second-best protective rating, they do not always have to showcase that part of their video game.
Still, Phoenix has been hot recently. Supplied they stay out of foul problem– that bench is worrisome– and can get an excellent shooting night from somebody like Cunningham or Kia Nurse to accompany what SDS and Taurasi do, they can beat anyone.
But winning a series against this specific Aces team? Thatll be hard.