Phoenix coach Corey Gaines is a pretty smart fellow. Last time he was in the Twin Cities the Mercury lost 90-73 to the Lynx on Aug. 2, but he predicted the two teams would meet in the Western Conference finals.

And then he said he had a veteran team, so it wouldn't need the home-court advantage to win the series. Phoenix beat defending WNBA champion Seattle 77-75 on Monday on its court to advance out of the first round of the playoffs.

Phoenix won WNBA title in 2007 and 2009 and 2011 is another odd year. The Mercury are the third seed in the West, which doesn't bother Gaines.

"Each year we won championships, nobody gave us a chance," Gaines said. "We don't pay any attention to [predictions]."


Thanks coach for setting me up. Here are a few more predictions you can ignore:

Lynx in three over Phoenix. Players say the three-game series against San Antonio toughened them up. They looked sharp in Game 3. They are one team that can run with the Mercury, at least for a while.

Indiana in three over Atlanta. This series depends on 6-5 center Erika de Souza. I'm picking Indiana if De Souza joins her Brazilian national team for the FIBA Americas basketball tournament in Columbia, a qualifier for the 2012 London Olympics. If she stays with the Dream, it wins in three. Atlanta was 4-0 this season against the Fever.

Of course, what do I know. I did lousy in my conference semifinal predictions -- don't bring that up coach Gaines.

Lynx won in three over San Antonio. ... I predicted they would sweep. But at least I got the winner right in this series.

Phoenix won in three over Seattle. .... Had Storm in three.

New York in two over Indiana. .... Fever in three.

Connecticut in three over Atlanta. ... Dream swept in two.

This predicting business isn't easy. Would lose my shirt and more if I was actually betting money.