Friday, September 12, 2008

Fall-back plan

So, it's official: With the Sun's 78-74 loss to San Antonio Thursday -- their third straight -- and Detroit's win over Washington, the Sun will be the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and will play New York in the first round. At the moment, the Liberty are 18-14 with two games to play, but even if they win out to finish at 20-14, which could tie the Sun if they were to lose Saturday to Washington, Connecticut holds the season-series tiebreaker.

Playoff dates have yet to be released, but most, if not all teams, will open their best-of-three series on Thursday, with the lower seed hosting the first game. I still find that set-up a little screwy, as it almost gives the lower-seeded teams an advantage despite playing two road games. But alas, teams with homecourt advantage usually have flourished anyway. Last season, the higher seeds won each of their series, including Indiana, which lost its first game in triple overtime at Connecticut.

As for Thursday's loss, the Sun still didn't shoot well (37 percent), but were playing without Lindsay Whalen (sprained right ankle), who coach Mike Thibault chose to sit to rest up for the playoffs. Whalen's injury looked like it was bothering her more so on Tuesday in Houston than the previous games she played on it. Jamie Carey started in her place, returning after missing Tuesday's game with turf toe. The win also clinched the Western Conference regular-season title and homecourt advantage for the Silver Stars.

The Sun, though, suddenly find themselves in need of a momentum builder Saturday at home against Washington. I'll have a post later on the likelihood of Lindsay Whalen playing, but several Connecticut players need to regain confidence in their shots before the playoffs begin. Barbara Turner (0-for-3) has struggled at times during this latest skid, as have the Sun's rookie wing players, though Amber Holt (eight points, 4-of-7 shooting) had a decent night outside of foul trouble and Kerri Gardin (eight points, a career-high 14 rebounds) was as active on the boards as any Sun player has been this season. Asjha Jones (18 points, 8-for-21) had one of her worst nights shooting the ball Thursday, and fouled out for the second straight game.

With the playoff field set nearly a week before the postseason actually begins, I'll spend the next few days looking at a variety of things: Playoff match-ups from both conferences, a deep look into the Liberty, predictions on WNBA awards (once the season ends) as well as normal updates and observations of the Sun. Now it starts to get exciting.

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