There are only two games tonight, but they a) have significant playoff implications, b) should be good games, and c) feature some of the league's biggest stars.
Who: Connecticut Sun at Atlanta Dream
When: 7:30 p.m. EDT on WNBA LiveAccess
Where: Phillips Arena - Atlanta, GA
What: The fourth and final meeting in the regular season series, which the Sun lead 2-1.
Preview: WNBA.com preview
Who: San Antonio Silver Stars at Los Angeles Sparks
When: 10:30 p.m. EDT on NBA TV | WNBA LiveAccess
Where: Staples Center - Los Angeles, CA
What: The fourth and final meeting comes in the midst of a playoff battle that could go down to the wire with a L.A. win.
Preview: SilverStars.com Gameday Preview
More links, analysis, and key stats after the jump.
Feel free to leave your additional links, insights, and rooting interests in the comments.
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7:30 p.m. EDT Connecticut Sun at Atlanta Dream
Both of these teams have secured playoff spots, so this is all about positioning and homecourt advantage.
- Kris Willis of SBN Atlanta describes the implications of this particular game: Atlanta has a chance to temporarily assume sole possession of third by a half game while Connecticut can put themselves in better position to grab first. Read more and check for updates >>>
- John Altavilla of the Hartford Courant breaks down the Sun's chances to win the Eastern Conference. Read more >>>
- Ned Griffen of The Day reports that Sun coach Mike Thibault thinks having something left to focus on is good for this team. Read more >>>
- Richard Cohen has written at length about the complex Eastern Conference playoff picture as it stands now, but also makes an important note about the Sun going forward: Asjha Jones' improved play could prove valuable to the Sun in the playoffs as teams focus on center Tina Charles. Read more >>>
Key stat to watch:
Turnovers: The Sun has been the least turnover prone team in the league in the second half of the season, while the Atlanta Dream has a defense that aims to force them. That makes a player like Sixth Woman of the Year candidate Kara Lawson pretty significant.
- Kara Lawson, G, Sun: Lawson's shooting could become a factor in this game, but most of all against the Dream her ball handling will be key - she has a team-high 2.69 pure point rating and the additional ball handling will help. In the Sun's one loss to the Dream, they had 21 turnovers; in their two losses, they had 14 apiece.
- Armintie Price, G, Dream: Price has not played well against the Sun this season, going 5-for-19 from the field in three meetings. Yet among Price's biggest improvements this season has been her ball handling efficiency - she has a pure point rating of 1.74, good for third on the team. Against the Sun, she's had 7 assists to 3 turnovers in the last two games playing starter-level minutes.
10:30 p.m. EDT San Antonio Silver Stars at Los Angeles Sparks (NBA TV)
If the fourth place Silver Stars win this one, they would still have a chance at the third seed (by virtue of a tiebreaker with the Phoenix Mercury) while the Sparks will fall three games behind with only two games remaining thus extinguishing their playoff hopes.
But if San Antonio drops this one in L.A., the final week of the season will be more exciting with both teams put in a must-win position - L.A. would tie the season series 2-2, but have a tiebreaker edge for the moment due to a better conference record.
- Roman Augustoviz of the StarTribune provides a detailed breakdown of the Western Conference playoff race as it stands today. Read more >>>
- Terrence Thomas of the San Antonio Express-News reports Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes speaking the language of opportunity before a big game. Read more >>>
- Richard Cohen describes how the Silver Stars lost to the Seattle Storm on Saturday night due to a couple of familiar problems: rebounding and, more recently, a lack of support for guard Becky Hammon and forward Sophia Young. Read more >>>
- Likewise, the Los Angeles Sparks have been both a poor rebounding team and lacked support for star forward Candace Parker, who is putting up MVP-caliber numbers since her return from injury.
- Jessica Lantz posted earlier today about Tulsa Shock point guard Ivory Latta's season-ending injury, which is also significant to these teams - back to that tiebreaker, both teams' final conference game is against the Shock. Read more >>>
Key stat to watch:
Rebounding: As noted above, neither of these teams is particularly strong on the rebounding front, with or without Parker or Danielle Adams, respectively - they are currently 11th (L.A.) and 12th (San Antonio) in the WNBA in total rebounding percentage. So someone has to win that battle and it could be especially significant for the Silver Stars - the Sparks give up the most second chance points in the league (13.29) and have the lowest defensive rebounding percentage in the league (67%).
Players to watch:
- Tina Thompson, F, Los Angeles Sparks: If this does come down to rebounding, the Sparks could use a boost from Thompson: she's the team's fourth best defensive rebounder (15.12%), virtually tied with forward Ebony Hoffman and rookie center Jantel Lavender. Another interesting tidbit: she's shot 46.5% from the field in 13 wins and 33.1% in 18 losses. A big game from her would be a big boost for the Sparks.
- Danielle Adams, F, San Antonio Silver Stars: Adams has shot 6-for-26 in their last three games and is showing now how much the Silver Stars benefited from her scoring in the early season. And again, if the game comes down to rebounding, she is the second best offensive rebounder on the team by percentage (8.84%).