Five Australians, representing three teams, are headed to the 2018 WNBA Playoffs which are set to tip off on Wednesday Australian time.
For the first time since 2009, the Wings have made the playoffs for two consecutive seasons. They only just scraped in, defeating the Las Vegas Aces in their penultimate game of the regular season to finally clinch a playoff berth and their attention now turns towards getting past the first round which they failed to do last year.
Having qualified in eighth position, Dallas face a single-elimination game against the Phoenix Mercury on Wednesday morning in a massive contest featuring a wealth of Aussie talent.
Starting the pre-season with Connecticut, George was let go by the team on the eve of the first game. While she only ended up playing 22 games for the season, George repaid the faith that Dallas showed in her by increasing her stats from last year to 3.5 points per game while shooting 44% from the field and 34% from the three-point line.
Working in tandem with Cambage in the front court has been beneficial to both players’ games while George’s previous playoff experience both in the WNBL and WNBA will come in handy in the post-season.
Dominating the WNBA in her first season back, Cambage is a serious MVP candidate. At the conclusion of the regular season, she leads the league with 23 points per game, sits second with 9.7 rebounds and fifth for blocks with 1.7. She broke the WNBA all-time scoring record with a 53-point performance last month and then recorded 43 points and 13 rebounds earlier this week in Dallas’ playoff-clinching win over the Aces.
Key to the Wings’ chances, she will have to show off in front of Chemist Warehouse Australian Opals coach Sandy Brondello in order to beat Phoenix in the first round but has not been as effective across their three meetings during the regular season, averaging 13.7 points and five rebounds for a 1-2 record against them.
Led by Chemist Warehouse Opals coach Sandy Brondello for the fifth year in a row, Phoenix will feature in their sixth consecutive playoffs this season and face a fascinating contest with Dallas on Wednesday morning.
Coming off the bench for the entire year, Mitchell has had to adjust to a different playing situation than she is used to while her stats have also dropped off compared to previous seasons.
Phoenix have a 20-14 record overall but are 4-1 when Mitchell plays 20+ minutes and with her veteran experience, coach Brondello could look to her more in the post-season. Shooting the three-ball at 33% this year, she has also found her stroke in recent games by hitting 44% from beyond the arc in her last ten outings.
Steph Talbot- There has been no sophomore slump for Talbot in her second season in the WNBA and learning under coach Brondello has surely fast-tracked her development. Averaging 3.2 points and shooting at 44% from the field, Talbot is placed seventh in the competition for eFG%.
She showcased her toughness in Phoenix’s last game of the regular season, suffering a broken nose and playing through it before recording a career-high 18 points to go with six rebounds, three assists and a block.
For just the second time in the 19-year history of their club, Seattle have finished on top of the table with a 26-8 record. That means they automatically advance through the first two rounds and will await an opponent in the Semi-Finals which are not scheduled to tip off until August 27. They are chasing their third Championship and first since 2010.
Making the most of her limited opportunities coming off the bench for Seattle, Whitcomb could be a part of something special this season. She has notched double-figures in scoring on three occasions while shooting 35% from the three-point line and continues to be a threat when she hits the floor.
In the Storm’s final regular season game, Whitcomb played 28 minutes and showed just how damaging she can be with nine points, four rebounds, two assists, four steals and a block. She is unlikely to get that many minutes in the post-season but Seattle know they can get solid minutes out of her if required.