1. Full Playoff Schedule
I realised this week that for some dumb reason the WNBA haven’t released this in full, so for those who want to take a leap of faith and start booking flights and hotels really early, here’s the expected 2016 WNBA playoff schedule:
First Round (single-elimination: #5 seed vs #8, and #6 vs #7)
Wednesday, September 21st (both games)
Second Round (single elimination: #3 vs lowest 1st-rnd winner, #4 vs other 1st-rnd winner)
Sunday, September 25th (both games)
Semi-Finals (best-of-5, 2-2-1 format: #1 vs lowest 2nd-rnd winner, #2 vs other 2nd-rnd winner)
(Game 1s) Wednesday, September 28th
(Game 2s) Friday, September 30th
(Game 3s) Sunday, October 2nd
(Game 4s) Tuesday, October 4th (if necessary)
(Game 5s) Thursday, October 6th (if necessary)
WNBA Finals (best-of-5, 2-2-1 format)
(Game 1) Sunday, October 9th
(Game 2) Tuesday, October 11th
(Game 3) Friday, October 14th
(Game 4) Sunday, October 16th (if necessary)
(Game 5) Thursday, October 20th (if necessary)
All weekend games in the afternoon, all weekday games in the evening. Obviously, all subject to potential change due to ESPN’s whims or arena availability.
Those double-headers for the first couple of rounds should be exciting, essentially fast-forwarding to the deciding games that we only got in the past when a series went the distance. Whether it’s fair or not is a different debate, but the entertainment should be there. We’ll also have the inevitable ‘rest vs rust’ debates this year in the WNBA, with the top two seeds having 10 days off before joining the competition at the semi-final stage. At least some of the games should be better attended this year – both thanks to the immediate excitement of single-elimination, and the extra time teams will have to sell tickets for the second round and semis. The hosts will know the dates as soon as the playoff seeding is set, and can start the publicity and sales immediately. Early playoff games have been sparsely attended in previous years because teams only have a couple of days’ notice to draw fans.
2. Dallas’s Dismal Defense
I’m going to get into this in more detail in a future piece, but this is why the Wings aren’t going to go anywhere meaningful this season unless things change dramatically.
This is the first basket of the game on Wednesday night:
There’s a half-hearted switch on the initial 4/5 screen-the-screener action (top-left of video), when Plenette Pierson kinda quits halfway through. Then Courtney Paris jumps out a mile to chase Natasha Cloud while Odyssey Sims tries to recover, before the ball goes back to Emma Meesseman. Here’s where Dallas repeatedly struggle. They like to trap and pressure so hard on ball-screens, but they’re a) not that good at it, and b) terrible at the help rotations necessary behind it. In that video above, both Erin Phillips and Karima Christmas take steps towards Meesseman (showing confusion on whose job it is) and Meesseman takes one dribble away from Phillips into a wide open shot. And that’s better than what Dallas offers up on a lot of similar plays. Often there’s no rotation at all, and Meesseman would’ve just been left standing on her own. Or one player moves but there’s no secondary movement, so one extra pass leads to a wide open shot (or easy lane to the hoop) instead.