A look at the two first-round series in the WNBA playoffs. The league changed the format for this postseason with both the first and second round being one game each.
No. 5 Indiana (17-17) vs. No. 8 Phoenix (16-18)
Season Series: Fever won 2-1.
Indiana: Tamika Catchings will have at least one more chance to play in front of her home fans. The 10-time All-Star who is retiring after the playoffs had a wonderful celebration after her final regular season home game Sunday. Now she’s trying to win a second WNBA championship in her illustrious career. The Fever have been up-and-down all season and will need to put together a strong effort for 40 minutes against the Mercury.
Phoenix: The Mercury might have been the biggest disappointment in the regular season. Predicting by the league’s GMs to win the title, Phoenix had to make a push in the final few weeks to even make the postseason. Despite having Brittney Griner in the middle, the Mercury have been inconsistent on defense this season, giving up 83.3 points a game. Like Catchings, Penny Taylor has announced she’ll retire after the playoffs. The Australian guard has helped the Mercury win three championships.
No. 6 Atlanta (17-17) vs. No. 7 Seattle (16-18)
Season Series: Storm won 2-1.
Atlanta: This is the Dream’s seventh playoff appearance overall and first since 2014. The game will be played at Georgia Tech where Atlanta will play its home games for the next two seasons. Angel McCoughtry has led the Dream all season in scoring (19.5). The offseason additions of Elizabeth Williams and Layshia Clarendon really have bolstered the team this season. The Dream will be without Tiffany Hayes, who was suspended by the league for a game after accruing her seventh technical foul in Atlanta’s regular season finale.
Seattle: The Storm are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2013 after going 7-3 since the Olympic break. Breanna Stewart has already had a rookie season to remember. She set the WNBA record for defensive rebounds in a season, had the third most points ever by a first-year player and was third in blocked shots. The Storm won in Atlanta on Sept. 4.