East semifinal: Chicago (24-10) vs. Indiana (16-18)
Games: Friday, Sunday, Tuesday*.
At a glance: This would seem to be a one-sided affair. Indiana, the defending champion, has the experience and is getting healthy. Chicago is in the playoffs for the first time in the team’s eight-year history. Then consider the Fever won the season series 3-1. The Sky is loaded, with Rookie of the Year favorite Elena Delle Donne (18.1 ppg), MVP candidate C Sylvia Fowles (16.3) and G Epiphanny Prince. But Indiana plays stout defense, led by F Tamika Catchings (17.7 ppg). The Fever will turn this into a slow, half-court game. Indiana led the league in defense, allowing just 70.5 points per game. The Sky’s big frontcourt could be a problem, but few coaches are more playoff savvy than Indiana’s Lin Dunn.
Prediction: Indiana in three games.
East semifinal: Atlanta (17-17) vs. Washington (17-17).
Games: Thursday, Saturday and Monday*.
At a glance: Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry might have had her best season. She led the league in scoring for the second consecutive year (21.5 ppg), while posting career highs in rebounding (5.3) and assists (4.4). Atlanta started the season 10-1 but finished 3-12. McCoughtry will need help from C Erika de Souza (12.9 ppg, 9.9 rpg) and G Tiffany Hayes (11.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg.). The Mystics, meanwhile, made a stunning turnaround from 5-29 last year to a playoff berth this year under coach Mike Thibault. Atlanta won the first three meetings between these teams, Washington the past two. Washington is led by G Ivory Latta (13.9 ppg, 4.4 apg), who led the league in three-pointers made.
Prediction: Washington in three games