The battle for 2009 WNBA conference titles get underway tonight in a doubleheader on ESPN2.
In the east, Deanna Nolan and the Detroit Shock host Tamika Catchings and the Indiana Fever at 8 p.m. ET at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The series will be the fourth consecutive playoff series between the two teams. The Shock won the first three, but had home court advantage. This year the tables are turned as Indiana is the top seed with the home court advantage. Indiana is 0-2 all-time in the Eastern Conference Finals, including a 2007 loss to Detroit. Detroit snapped a three-game skid to Indiana in their last regular season meeting on September 4.
Out west, the Los Angeles Sparks host the Phoenix Mercury at 10 p.m. ET on the campus of UCLA at Pauley Pavilion. A scheduling conflict prevented the teams from competing at the Sparks’ home, the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. A Britney Spears concert and a heavyweight title fight forced the venue move.
Phoenix and Los Angeles last met in the playoffs in 2000 when the Sparks swept the Mercury, 2-0. Phoenix owns a 3-1 record over Los Angeles in 2009. Los Angeles forward Tina Thompson is looking for her fifth title. She has four with the Houston Comets. Phoenix guard Kristi Harrower spent the first two years (1998-99) of her career in Phoenix.
The Mercury won the WNBA Finals back in 2007, but missed the postseason with a 16-18 record last year. Los Angeles, meanwhile, has two championships, both coming in back-to-back years in 2001 and 2002.
Sparks guard and Phoenix Mercury General Manager Ann Meyers Drysdale are graduates of UCLA. Quinn (’07) is the number four all-time scorer in the school’s history, totaling 1,829 career points. Meyers Drysdale, was a four-time All-American at UCLA from 1975-78. She is one of just two Bruin women to have her jersey number (15) retired. She is a member of the UCLA, Naismith, FIBA and Women’s Basketball Halls of Fame.
UCLA Students will receive free admission by showing ID at the Central Ticket Office.
Indiana Fever vs. Detroit Shock, 2009 Regular Season: Indiana 3 – Detroit 1
Game 1: at Detroit., Wed., 9/23, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Game 2: at Indiana, Fri., 9/25, 7 p.m. ET, NBA TV
Game 3 (if necessary): at Indiana, Sat., 9/26, 7 p.m. ET, NBA TV
Los Angeles Sparks vs. Phoenix Mercury, 2009 Regular Season: Phoenix 3, Los Angeles 1
Game 1: at L.A., Wed., 9/23, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Game 2: at Phoenix, Fri., 9/25, 10 p.m. ET, NBA TV
Game 3 (if necessary): at Phoenix, Sat., 9/26, 10 p.m. ET, NBA TV