Playoff rematches and classic rivalries begin anew in 2006

Ten Key Games for the Tenth Anniversary

Saturday, May 20: Phoenix Mercury at Sacramento Monarchs (4 p.m. ET, ABC)


The WNBA's Opening Day features four games including this gem on ABC. It will mark the first of eight games that the WNBA will play on ABC this season (22 national television games on national television in the regular season alone), though the opening game for the defending WNBA Champions might be the loudest and most raucous all season. The Monarchs will receive their championship rings and hoist their first banner to the rafters. Meanwhile, after missing out on the playoffs in her first two seasons with the Mercury, Diana Taurasi is as hungry as anyone for a taste of what the Monarchs have. Also get ready for the debut of the second pick in the draft, Mercury rookie Cappie Pondexter.

Tuesday, May 23: Sacramento Monarchs at Chicago Sky
Also see: Connecticut at Minnesota (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2) and Houston at Seattle (11 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

The WNBA's 14th and newest team opens up at home as the Chicago Sky welcome in the defending champions to their new home. The game will also mark the return of Stacey Dales-Schuman to the WNBA after one season off as well as the return of Chicago native Yolanda Griffith to her hometown. Tuesday nights also means the WNBA on ESPN2, with games virtually every Tuesday during the summer. The first doubleheader sees the return of former Minnesota Gopher Lindsay Whalen to her home state with the two-time defending Eastern Conference champion. The second game is a playoff rematch in Seattle and you can certainly expect both teams to contend again. This will also be the WNBA national television debut of top overall pick Seimone Augustus, who looks just as good in green as she did in purple.


Saturday, May 27: Detroit Shock at Connecticut Sun (4 p.m. ET, ABC)
Six of the most entertaining games last season featured two teams that do not like each other very much. The Connecticut Sun and Detroit Shock played four heater regular season games and two first round Eastern Conference games. The Shock won the regular season series, but the Sun swept Detroit out of the postseason. Both teams return their All-Star-rich rosters in what should be the first of several fun contests between two prime contenders in the East.

Tuesday, May 30: New York Liberty at Indiana Fever (7 p.m. ET ESPN2)
Also see: Los Angeles at Chicago (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

In another of the big playoff rematches set for national television in the early going, the Liberty look to exact revenge of the Fever, who won their first ever playoff series last year in sweeping the Liberty. And not only did the Fever sweep New York, but they held the Liberty to around 50 ppg over the two games. Both teams saw a lot of change in their lineups during the offseason, but one thing remains the same. Tamika Catchings and Becky Hammon are the keys that make their team go. Both teams also have some young talent ready to share the load.


Saturday, June 3: Los Angeles Sparks at New York Liberty (4 p.m. ET, ABC)
The Garden is always rocking, but there is always a little bit more energy when these two teams go at it and the games are always entertaining when these two respective powerhouses from each conference, the two biggest cities in the U.S., square off. Chamique Holdsclaw and Lisa Leslie always seem to bring their A-games to New York, but their familiar foes have a new look this season. Gone are Crystal Robinson, Vickie Johnson and Elena Baranova, but the Liberty newcomers will be ushered into this classic rivalry in the earlygoing. Both celebrate their tenth anniversary in the WNBA along with the league itself.

Tuesday, June 13: Charlotte Sting at Washington Mystics (7 p.m. ET ESPN2)
The backcourt tandem of Nikki Teasley and Alana Beard will be exciting to watch this season, and the Mystics have made a number of changes to their lineup and it will be interesting to see how they pan out. The Sting, who will start the year without Dawn Staley for the first time since the Clinton administration, will look to the return of a healthy and new mom for leadership. Guard Allison Feaster gave birth in in January and should be back for the start of the season.



Wednesday, July 12: The 2006 WNBA All-Star Game (8 p.m. ET, ESPN)
What happens when the last three MVPs line up on the court together? Well, if last year is any indication, the answer is loads of scoring. With Swoopes, Leslie and Jackson, the West will be tough to beat (in fact, they have never lost). The WNBA All-Star Game is the annual mid-summer classic that features the best talent in the world all under one roof on one court. In 2005 at the Mohegan Sun Arena, they All-Stars nearly blew the roof off the place with their offensive explosion. The combined 221 points was the most in WNBA history. Remember Lisa's dunk? Remember Deanna's near-dunk? Remember Diana's 30-foot shot? Great memories all. But just the tip of the iceberg... New York City, here we come.

Saturday, July 15: Connecticut Sun at Sacramento Monarchs (4 p.m. ET, ABC)
Yep, this is the one we've been waiting for. After a physical, grueling four game WNBA Finals back in September, the rematch is finally here. Okay, so it won't mean as much as last year's championship, but you know that both of these teams will be playing for something a little extra when they play each other for the first time since the epic battle. These were also the two best teams in last year's regular season and the highest-scoring teams in the postseason (probably why they made it to the Finals...). Remember Taj and Yo going at it down low? Remember Kara Lawson running around like a mad woman with the ball after it was all over?

Tuesday, August 8: Houston Comets at Charlotte Sting
Also see: Minnesota at Phoenix (10 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

It will be a night to remember for fans in North Carolina when Dawn Staley returns to Charlotte after being traded near the end of last season. This could also be her final trip to the city where she spent her entire WNBA career prior to the trade since there have been hints that Staley would consider retiring if the Comets win it all. Meanwhile, on ESPN2, two teams that missed the playoffs last year will look for a win and strengthen that all-important conference record in case things are tight at the end of the regular season (as they always are). Remember Tina Thompson's successful return from maternity leave? Remember the promise and future that is Janel McCarville?



Saturday, August 12: Seattle Storm at Houston Comets (2 p.m. ET, ABC)
Sunday, August 13: Washington Mystics at New York Liberty (1:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

You know what's going to happen, don't you? After 33 games and all of those battles, it will still come down to the last weekend of the season for so many teams. Whether it is actually clinching a playoff berth or locking up home court in the first round, the last week is going to be a roller coaster ride of excitement. Luckily for you, the final regular season weekend is a national television bonanza with not one but two ABC games on back-to-back days and both are certainly going to be meaningful. Seattle wants payback after losing twice at home in the playoffs to Houston a year ago, that's for sure. Remember Sheryl Swoopes' triple double in that series (the first ever in the playoffs)? Remember Sue Bird wearing that mask? Again? Remember Dawn Staley going from a losing team to a team that made the Western Conference Finals?

The 2005 was another year to remember, but here's to 2006, a tenth anniversary celebration which is sure to be replete with future memories all its own!