It's time to tip off the 2008 WNBA Finals. Representing the East are the three-time defending Eastern champion Detroit Shock. From the West, it's the top-seeded San Antonio Silver Stars.
And there are plenty of story lines worth discussing...
Is Deanna Nolan the most dominant postseason player in league history? Can Becky Hammon lead her team to a title? Will Plenette Pierson be on the court for the Shock? Can Sophia Young continue her storybook playoff run?
There's no way to know for certain, but WNBA.com Editor Adam Hirshfield will be online to take your questions starting well before the game and continuing until the final buzzer sounds.
So get your questions in now and check back Wednesday afternoon for some answers. And enjoy WNBA basketball at its best.
Adam Hirshfield: (7:07 PM ET ) Hey, WNBA fans... and welcome to Game 1 of the WNBA Finals here in San Antonio. I'll be with you from now til the final buzzer. So send your questions my way and keep 'em coming.
Mara, Chattanooga TN:
Usually in the finals it comes down to which team has the better bench production, so in your opinion, which bench player will have to step up in the finals in order for their team to win?
Adam Hirshfield: (7:14 PM ET )
Hi Mara, thanks for the terrific question. You're 100 percent right, the bench will be hugely important for both teams in this series. Plenette Pierson, last year's Sixth Woman of the Year, could be one of the keys to this series. As Doris Burke wrote in her series preview, she's one of the few players in the league who might be capable of matching the speed of Silver Star Sophia Young. She's a huge spark off the bench for Detroit at both ends. But her injury could limit her... we're still not sure how healthy she is or how many minutes she'll play. But she's the one player off the bench who could end up playing a huge role in how this series plays out.
Von Braschler, St. Paul, MN:
Doesn't Becky Hammon's exclusion from the US Olympic team look pretty silly now that she has lead her team to the WNBA files and had star numbers all of the way?
Adam Hirshfield: (7:19 PM ET )
You could make a pretty convincing case that Becky's exclusion from the U.S. team has looked pretty silly for about a year and a half now. But USA Basketball made a decision about the players they invited to their camp and the players they brought with them to Beijing... and it's hard to argue with how things worked out with them. The players who did go to the Olympics have those gold medals around their necks... and those don't look too silly at all.
By the same token, though, Becky knew what the situation was with the U.S. team. And she felt that playing with Russia was her best shot at playing in the Olympics. And it worked out pretty well for her, too. Becky's a star, and it's pretty cool that she got a chance to show that to the rest of the world at the Olympics.
Aneela(Toronto, ON) Canada:
hey Adam, any idea of how many people are at the AT& T Center? Because I really hope there's more than 15, 000.
Adam Hirshfield: (7:22 PM ET )
What's up, Aneela. Yes, I know precisely how many people there are here at the AT&T Center. At least I will in a couple of hours... 1... 2... 3... 4...
Courtney Grand Rapids, Michigan:
What are the shock going to do to win game 1
Adam Hirshfield: (7:25 PM ET )
Score more points than the Silver Stars. Really, though, they're going to have to keep Becky Hammon under wraps defensively... Don't give her open shots from the outside. Also, having Plenette Pierson would help marking up Sophia Young... But I will say, I don't see Plenette out on the court warming up. That could be bad news for your Shock.
With this being San Antonio's first final apperance how do u figure they will do against such a talented &experienced Detroit team?
Adam Hirshfield: (7:44 PM ET )
Yes, this is the Silver Stars' first Finals appearance, but they have a bunch of veteran players who have played in the Finals... Erin Buescher with the Monarchs and Becky Hammon and Vickie Johnson with the Liberty. Yes, as a whole, the team's experience doesn't match that of the Shock, but once the excitement wears off, they'll realize it's just basketball.
Keisha, Houston, Texas:
hey adam, do you think sophia young is one of the more underrated players in the league?
Adam Hirshfield: (7:46 PM ET )
Hi Keisha, thanks for writing in. Yes. She's amazing.
Emily (Greenville, SC):
Do you think the Finals will go to 5 games?
Adam Hirshfield: (7:49 PM ET )
I hope so. I hope we all get to see five games of these terrific teams battling it out.
Courtney Brown (Chattanooga, TN):
Have You Always Wanted To Be In The WNBA?
And Why Do you wear The Number 14?
Adam Hirshfield: (7:51 PM ET )
Yes, Courtney, I have always wanted to be in the WNBA... but that pesky "not being any good at basketball" thing has always stood in my way. That and the "not being a woman" thing. And 14 is my lucky number.
Bryan Los Angeles, CA:
Hey Adam, what is your take on the guard play of the Silver Stars and the Shock. Do you think Katie Smith's strength and defense and Nolans defense as well can really disrupt Beck Hammon's offensive play ? Also include the fact that Nolan and Smith have a height advantage over both Hammon and Vickie Johnson.
Adam Hirshfield: (7:55 PM ET )
Hey Bryan. Thanks for the question. To start off, I think this series features plenty of terrific guards... two Olympic medalists, in fact. I think the combination of Katie and Tweety is obviously a formidable one. But Becky Hammon is a star who will have a lot of influence however you play it. But yes, if the Shock are able to even contain Becky, it'll put a lot of pressure to score on the frontcourt... particularly Sophia and Ann Wauters. And against Taj and Kara Braxton, et al., it won't be easy for them, either.
TJ: Andrews AFB Maryland:
Do u feel Deanna Nola is underrated??? Defensively and offensively. She only made the all defense second team and is never really talked about for MVP
Adam Hirshfield: (7:57 PM ET )
I think she may be underrated, but more because of her quiet, laid-back personality than her play. Everyone who's seen her play knows what an amazing athlete she is. No, she's not often at the top of MVP discussions because she has so many talented teammates around her. But is she one of the best players in the game? Unquestionably.
Adam Hirshfield: (7:58 PM ET )
Oh, and for the record, folks, Plenette Pierson is not playing tonight. She's in street clothes and a sling.
Matty Brocks (Australia):
Any chance of the WNBA playing in Australia? I think it would be fun to see the Shock or Silver Stars play against the girls of WNBL in Australia.
Adam Hirshfield: (8:01 PM ET )
Interesting idea, Matty. Is there any chance? You're asking the wrong person. It would definitely be fun to see the teams go after each other. And all due respect to you Aussies out there (love the unis, by the way... ;) ), but I think most of our teams would be pretty successful against yours.
Ryan F. (Tiburon, Ca):
Hi Adam! What is the most inventive/humorous fan-made sign that you've seen so far in the crowd? And is Ann Wauters' ankle 100% OK from last game?
Adam Hirshfield: (8:04 PM ET )
Hey Ryan... thanks for chiming in. The most inventive fan-made sign I've seen so far is definitely the guy with the "Shock the Shock" message. HILARIOUS! SO CREATIVE! I've never heard that before! WE'VE FOUND THE NEXT JACK BENNY/GEORGE CARLIN/ROBIN WILLIAMS RIGHT HERE IN SAN ANTONIO. ;)
will the shock be able to beat SA without cheryl ford?
Adam Hirshfield: (8:11 PM ET )
Hi Jasmin, the Shock better hope so, because she's not wearing her uniform tonight. And Taj McWilliams-Franklin has done a pretty darned good job in her place since she arrived from the Mystics.
Rich, (London UK):
Hey Hirschy! Thought I'd respond to your desperate plea over at Reb's ;).
Erin Buescher - sorely overlooked for All-WNBA Defensive Team honours. Discuss.
Adam Hirshfield: (8:14 PM ET )
What's up, Richyyyyyyyy. Thanks for checking in from London, where it's gotta be pretty late, eh? Anyway, yes, Erin is a fantastic defensive player who really didn't get the respect she deserved for keeping Candace Parker under wraps in the previous series. And she has another ridiculously tough matchup in this one, Deanna Nolan. She'll have a tough time competing with Tweety's speed, but her size advantage and energy should help her out. If Erin is deserving of All-WNBA Defensive Team honors (what is this "honours" you speak of? ;) ), this is a pretty good test.
Asia(New Roads, Louisiana):
Who do you think will be in the finals next year?
Adam Hirshfield: (8:16 PM ET )
The Sky and the Lynx. It's all about young talent. Big Syl and Candice Wiggins are going to be superstars.
Laura (Washington DC):
When are they going to announce the MVP? Are they doing that before tonight's game?? I know they tip at like 7:50ish...I don't want to miss it!!
Adam Hirshfield: (8:21 PM ET )
Well, Laura... I'm waiting just like you are. I don't mean to be speaking out of class here, but I believe the current plan (PLEASE, don't quote me on this) is to announce MVP prior to Game 2 on Friday.
Which team do you think will win the WNBA Finals? Well I hope the San Antonio Silver Stars win because my 2nd favorite player is Becky Hammon. Sylvia Fowles is still #1!
Adam Hirshfield: (8:34 PM ET )
I'm not in the predictions game, Robin. If I were, I'd be wearing a much nicer suit than I am right now.
Betty Sharp (Copeland, Florida):
I think Becky Hammmond is awsome, Silver stars will win the title....
Adam Hirshfield: (8:34 PM ET )
Mohamed (Memphis, Tn):
I believe, not think, but believe Tweety is one of the most dominant postseason player ever in history, of course my girl candace parker will also be one day, but Tweety is a future hall of fame player, and I believe she will crush Becky Hammond and Sophia,s young playoff run with the help of Katie Smith, Plenette, of course, she is the soul of the shock, and Nolan is the engine of the shock, because they've been there, done that. I have faith in them because can noone in San Antonio stop TWEETY!
Adam Hirshfield: (8:37 PM ET )
I tend to agree with you, Mohamed. There's something about Tweety's game -- and it's about 1,000 times more evident in the playoffs -- that enables her to just step up her game. And when she's on, she's pretty much unstoppable. As I'm writing this, she just hit a hanging jumper in the lane to end the first half. Dang. I so wish I could do that. If I could, I'd probably be wearing a nicer suit.
Valerie: Greenwood, SC:
Both teams deserve to win the championship. It's too bad that only one can go home with the title. The Shock and the Silver Stars are winners. How does San Antonio plan to limit Deanna Nolan's touches?
Adam Hirshfield: (8:44 PM ET )
I agree! We should have 14 champions this year! But as we all know, there can only be one. You're right, though, these are both terrific teams and you're gonna have to feel like whoever wins is a deserving champ.
As far as limiting Nolan's touches, she's had Erin Buescher all over her in the first half, but Tweety still has 8 points, 4 boards and 3 assists. How's that working for you, Coach Hughes?
Shonda (Barksdale AFB, LA):
So Adam since SA has home court advantage do you think they are destined to win the Championship?
Adam Hirshfield: (8:47 PM ET )
Well, Shonda... they're down 10 at halftime... at home. Destined? I'm thinking no. Even if they come back tonight, which is possible, I don't think home-court guarantees anything in this day and age. Especially against a battle-tested team like the Shock.
kevin (macon ga):
How much will the Shock's home advantage be reduced by playing in Ypsilanti instead of Auburn Hills?
Adam Hirshfield: (8:50 PM ET )
My main man, pilight... Good to hear from you, sir. I thought playing in Ypsi might make a big difference, even against the Liberty in the Eastern Finals. But the Shock won two straight. Does playing there dilute the advantage a tiny bit? Maybe, but there are plenty of Shock fans who will root 'em on there, too. And the team itself looked pretty comfy there, so I don't see it playing a major role.
kevin (macon ga):
Tell me again why Nolan isn't one of the top MVP candidates...
Adam Hirshfield: (8:53 PM ET )
Why isn't Tweety one of the top MVP candidates? Because until late in the season, you could make a pretty decent case that Katie Smith was having just as good a season. That and she's not the flashy, crossover, "name" player that Candace, Diana and Sue are. SHOULD she be one of the top candidates? Of course. But I just work here... I don't get a real vote.
Asia(New Roads, Louisiana):
Where do you think Phoenix will sit next year
Adam Hirshfield: (8:59 PM ET )
Ironically, Asia, I spoke with Cappie Pondexter today, who told me she's so ticked about her team's play this year, that it's gonna be hard for her to even watch the Finals. But she also told me that they'll be back next year. When Cappie tells me something, I believe her. She's one of the most intense competitors I've ever been around.
Benjamin: (Austin, TX)::
Can't watch game, since I'm at work. But I see that apparently the Shock have had a HUGE 2nd Quarter and apparently they are keeping Becky Hammon from being too effective. What do you think the Silver Stars chances are at coming back? Also, how many people ended up at the AT&T Center anyway?
Adam Hirshfield: (9:03 PM ET )
Hey Benjamin. Sorry you're at work. So am I. Hehehehe. (My life is good.) But yes, the Shock played really well in the 2nd quarter and really limited Becky's touches on the perimeter. There's no question in my mind that they're capable of coming back. They certainly did it in Games 2 and 3 against the Sparks. But it's gonna take a change offensively, because the combo of Nolan and Smith is making it tough for her to get shots.
Adam Hirshfield: (9:04 PM ET )
Oh, and the official attendance appears to be somewhere in the vicinity of 1 billion. But there's a margin of error of a billion or so.
Emily (Greenville, SC):
Don't get me wrong, SA is my fav WNBA team so I'm cheering for them 100%, but seriously, do they EVER rebound? It seems like a lot of the time a shot goes up and there are at least 3 Detroit players under the basket while there are no SA players to rebound.
Adam Hirshfield: (9:06 PM ET )
You're 100% right, Emily. The Stars are getting outrebounded. But rebounding can be a team thing. It's about being in the right position when shots are taken. It seems tonight like the Shock are in better position more often than not.
kevin (macon ga):
What about Rookie of the Year? When will they announce that? Any guesses who might win?
Adam Hirshfield: (9:07 PM ET )
I'm not sure about Rookie of the Year, but it was the last award announced last year. So there's that. As for guesses about a winner, I can only say who I voted for: Megan Vogel. Love ya, Vogs. :)
Shah (Saudi Arabia, Riyadh):
Hiyaaah ! According to you, who will be the MVP?
Adam Hirshfield: (9:13 PM ET )
Hiyaaah, back atcha! According to me, there are a handful of players who could be MVP. Lindsay Whalen, Candace Parker, Becky Hammon, Sophia Young, Sue Bird... I'd probably pick one of them. Then next time you asked, I'd pick a different one. It's that tough.
i think there should be 7 games in the finals like the NBA, cuz than it gets more and more exciting and the other team has a chance to catch up. wut do u think?
Adam Hirshfield: (9:15 PM ET )
I agree, Samira! I'd love to see seven games... especially with these two teams.
natalie seattle, wahington:
have you seen tony parker yet?
Adam Hirshfield: (9:16 PM ET )
I didn't realize I was looking for him. Are we playing hide and seek?
How can you make the argument that Nolan gets no MVP love because she's got so much talent around her? I never heard those arguments when Cooper, Swoopes, Leslie and Jackson were winning the award and they had all stars on their teams.
Must be another Detroit bias.
Adam Hirshfield: (9:20 PM ET )
As an avid follower of nearly all Detroit sports teams, I take offense to your claim of Detroit bias. So there.
My point, Pride, if that is your REAL name, is that the league is deeper now than ever before. And when you have so many high quality players to choose from for MVP, I think you have to consider other factors (like how good a team would be without that player). Would the Shock be as good without Tweety? No. But they'd still be pretty good. On the flip side, I feel like the Sun would struggle without Lindsay Whalen, for example. Get my point?
kevin (macon ga):
How much longer until Hughes pulls Hammon for Helen Darling? Most anyone would be an improvement over Becky right now.
Adam Hirshfield: (9:22 PM ET )
Yes, Becky's struggling a bit right now. But with the defense Nolan's playing on her, she might be following her home afterwards... she's that close. And though Helen is a talented guard, I'm guessing her contributions tonight might be limited by the cast and pant suit.
Christy (New Bedford, MA):
Have you spotted any Hammonites down there in Texas? Do you consider yourself a Hammonite? We are dying to know...:)
Adam Hirshfield: (9:24 PM ET )
What is up, New Bedford (sorry, it's pronounced New Bedfid)? Have I spotted any Hammonites? That's like asking if I've seen any pickup trucks since I've been here. Ummmm, yes. A lot.
JP: (Sydney, Australia):
In your opinion, who do you think is the better point guard out of both teams?
Not to get off topic here, but who would you say is the best point guard in the league overall?
The reason why I'm interested is because, the way I see it, it's the PG that leads the team to it's successes for the most part. In a way, their vision on the court is what initially ignites the team to work their magic on the floor.
Adam Hirshfield: (9:32 PM ET )
Hey JP. Good question. And I don't mean to dodge your question, because I generally agree that the PG leads the way to success for a good team. But the point is that neither of these teams has a "typical" point guard situation. Elaine Powell is a solid point, but she isn't relied on to score at all. Becky is the exact opposite. I guess she's more of a point guard than anyone else on the Stars, but she's more of a scorer in addition to being a true floor leader. In short, Becky's the better player, but the Shock's system seems to work pretty well for them.
HY sir, Do you think Candace Parker is the female Kobe Bryant?
Adam Hirshfield: (9:33 PM ET )
No. I think she's better.
Tristan Ratliff Tiplersville, MS:
Do You Think any Shock championship team could beat any of the 4 time wnba champ comets teams if they were in the same era?
Adam Hirshfield: (9:37 PM ET )
Awesome question, Tristan. Comparisons like this are always tough because the game changes so much, even over the course of 8-10 years. Would the Shock give them a game? Totally. They're one of the toughest, best-coached teams this decade. In any sport. And this is probably the league's closest thing to a dynasty since the Comets. There, I said it.
Ryan F. (Tiburon, Ca):
Hey Adam, a couple years ago, the stellar play of Plenette Pierson off the bench spurred on the 6th Woman of the Year award. Do you think the GM moves of Bill Laimbeer this season will spur on an Executive of the Year Award? And is it just me, or does Greg Popovich's new beard make him look like Obi-Wan Kenobi?
Adam Hirshfield: (9:41 PM ET )
Yes, Trader Bill has worked wonders once again. If there were an Exec of the Year award, he'd be a solid choice. And as for Coach Pop, yes, it's just you. :)
Adam Hirshfield: (9:45 PM ET )
OK, folks, the Shock walk out of Game 1 with a 77-69 win. And it was a blast to be here sharing the time with you. Be sure to tune in Friday as we may re-enact this excitement with another chat. If the interest is there, lemme know in our Fan Voice. Thanks and continue to Expect Great.