GIQ WNBA Preview — Conference Semifinals: Atlanta at Detroit, Seattle at Los Angeles

by Frisco Del Rosario on September 16, 2009

Dream at Shock

Over the last 10 games of the regular season, the Eastern teams limped to the finish 4-6 or 3-7, except for Detroit, who had won 8 of 10, and Atlanta at 5-5.

The defending champion Shock started the season 2-7 and made a coaching change in June, but sprinted home by winning 9 of 11, even though Katie Smith — the league’s all-time leading three-point shooter — missed their last seven games, and is day-to-day for the semifinal series.

Deanna Nolan led the Shock with 17 points and 4 assists per game, while Shavonte Zellous will earn a spot on the all-rookie team for averaging 12 points, plus a team-high 5 free throw attempts per game.

The Shock have won six in a row at home, while — depending on the line one bought — going 4-0 ATS with two pushes. The Dream won the season series 3-1 and beat the spread three times with one push.

Atlanta finished the regular season with the best record in the East against the spread, and were the only Eastern team to make 20 overs.

The Dream had five double figure scorers, but the team’s leading assister, rookie Shalee Lehning, is out with a shoulder injury.

Sparks at Storm

The Sparks were favored to win the title before the season began, but Candace Parker’s pregnancy plus an injury to Lisa Leslie led to their struggling to a 7-10 start before climbing over San Antonio and Minnesota with a 11-6 finish.

In her farewell season, Leslie led the Sparks with 15 points per game, while MVP Parker put up 15 double-doubles in 25 games.

Seattle lost all-universe forward Lauren Jackson to a knee injury, but managed to split six games SU and ATS without her. Sue Bird, the league’s leading playmaker, missed three games with a neck injury, but is expected to play in the semifinal. Distance shooter Katie Gearlds is also back after missing 14 games with a bad knee.

The Storm had the best home record in the West, winning 8 of their last 10 at Key Arena (but 5-5 against the spread). Their last loss at home came while three starters were out with injuries.

The Sparks and the Storm finished 1-2 in the league in field goal percentage allowed. Their season series was split 2-2. The home team won each game, while the Sparks won three of the four ATS.

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