Thursday Open Thread: The Playoffs Begin With Two Games on ESPN2 at 8 PM Eastern Time

Okay ladies and gents. With the regular season and the draft lottery now over, it is time to crown a league champion. Today there is one game each for the East and West for the First Round starting at 8 PM Eastern.

Game 1: #4 NY Liberty at #1 Connecticut Sun for Round 1 in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, 8 PM ET/5 PM PT | Liberty Preview | Tina Charles led the league in rebounds | League Series Preview

After a season where they started 0-5, the Libs managed to go 15-14 the rest of the way, and won the 4th seed out East. The Sun built on last year's momentum and are back in the playoffs for the 2nd straight year.

The favorite is the Sun given that the team won 4 of 5 matches vs. NY in the regular season. Kara Lawson has had a resurgent year and was a large contributor to the team's success in addition to Tina Charles.

For New York, this is a team that has made the playoffs 12 out of 16 years in business, and though they aren't expected to win the round, this is a best of three series, not a best of five. It also isn't uncommon to see a 4 seed win this round either and perhaps better. The Atlanta Dream was the 4th seed in 2010, but swept the 1st seeded Washington Mystics and then the 2nd seeded Liberty to make the Finals that year, so we'll see what happens over this series.

Game 2: #3 San Antonio Silver Stars at #2 LA Sparks for Round 1 in the Western Conference Playoffs, 10 PM ET/9 PM CT/7 PM PT | Stars Preview | League Series Preview

This is likely the most even series in the league, and our fellow Lynx fan Shannon also agreed with that statement.

The Sparks have made a nice comeback and return to the playoffs after missing out last year, but with their new head coach Carol Ross, new acquisitions including the 2012 first draft pick Nneka Ogwumike and free agent Alana Beard, plus the improved play of Kristi Toliver around Candace Parker, this team has played very nicely.

The Stars won 3 of 4 games vs the Sparks this season, including two times during their midseason 12 game winning streak. However before and after that time, they haven't been quite as consistent. The Stars will be led by their top duo of Becky Hammon and Sophia Young, who pilight suggested should be the MVP after she averaged 16 ppg, 7 rpg, 2 assists per game ,and 2 steals a game.

In addition, Danielle Adams, Daniella Robinson, and Jia Perkins average double figures (Robinson actually scored 9.9 ppg), so this is a pretty evenly balanced team that will be reckoned with along with LA which also has five double digit scorers who are Toliver, Candace, Nneka, Alana, and Delisha.

The Sparks' ownership doesn't own Staples Center and "conveniently so," Batman Live will be there tonight, and there will be additional shows through Sunday, September 30, including three shows on Saturday and two on that final Sunday. Hey! I'm advertising an event that just took away the Sparks' real home court away! UGH! Really? How can this be?


Yes, Mr. Y U No Guy fights for other teams in this league too.

Because of Batman Live being scheduled in Staples Center in advance, the Sparks will play at Galen Center at the University of Southern California (USC). Sure, it's not UC Berkeley, but USC just happens to be another rival of Nneka's alma mater, but at the same time, the same fans that helped the Sparks get a 16-1 record at home will try do the same at USC for this playoff matchup.

So those are the games for today. After several days of wondering how the draft balls would fall and learning that order yesterday, it is now time to focus on the teams that will fight to accomplish their ultimate goal, which is to win the WNBA Finals. Enjoy the games everyone!