Ask Nancy: August 6, 2006

Basketball Hall-of-Famer and ESPN analyst Nancy Lieberman answers your questions and emails throughout the year. Click here to submit a question of your own.

With time running out, do you think the Silver Stars (or Mercury, for that matter) can beat out the Storm for the final playoff spot in the West? I sure hope so. Thanks,
-Stephanie, Corpus Cristi, TX
"I think it will be very difficult. The Mercury's recent losses cost them the chance to move up. Seattle winning on Tuesday night pretty much secured things. So barring a collapse during the last week of the season, the playoff teams are set."

If the Sun and the Shock meet in the East Finals once again, who do you think will come out on top? The Shock are really the only team I can see beating the Sun. Should be a fun series if it happens.
-Marabelle, Knoxville, TN
"All along, Detroit is a collection of All-Stars. This is a very talented team, but they have a history of being streaky. Right now, Connecticut's consistency is unquestioned, so the onus is on Detroit to get it together. The Shock have shown that they can beat the Sun already this season, including a win at Connecticut. But Detroit must play with more consistency. Can they do it? Yes. They just have to get it done."

Hi Nancy, Now that the playoff picture is starting to clear up and we've seen teams play all summer, who are your picks to make the WNBA Finals? Do you want to revise your picks made in the preseason? We'll give you a free pass to do so. Have a great rest of your summer,
-Lorna, Wilkes Barre, PA
"Thanks for the free pass because I never know if my crystal ball is going to be working properly throughout the course of the entire season, but I am pretty good at educated guessing. I still think that Los Angeles and Connecticut are the teams to beat."

Nancy, Lisa Leslie has been a stud this season, we all know this, but the playoffs are different. Will she be able to carry the Sparks to the Finals? Or is her dream season going to come up short?
-Matthew B., Monmouth Beach, N.J.
"The bigger the stage, the brighter Lisa Leslie shines. She has been unbelieveable during the regular season, and I would expect her to bring yet another level of play in the playoffs. Do I think she can carry them? Yes. But this is not just about Lisa Leslie. She has other great players around her in Chamique Holdsclaw and Temeka Johnson as well as a nice supporting cast around her. They have really responded to Joe Bryant's coaching style. They are physical, they rebound and defend as well. There is no reason to think that they are going to fall apart."

Miss Lieberman, who are some bench players that you feel will have a big impact in the playoffs? They always seem to make a big difference in these extended series, don't you agree?
-Bubba, Mountain Ridge, CO
"To be quite honest, bench players are what they are. They have to come in and make an impact, but once you get to the playoffs, if your stars do not perform, you are in trouble because now you are asking a role player to give you substantial minutes when they are used to performing in a supplementary position. So while I think players are capable of having big games, like Tan White scoring 16 points off the bench for Indiana, the stars have to play like stars and carry a team."

Hi Nancy, Do you think the Washington Mystics have a chance to make a deep playoff run? Why is this year any different for us long, suffering Styx fans? All the best,
-Michelle, Truth or Consequences, NM
"I don't think the Mystics fans are suffering this season. They have a really good team, in fact, not to mention a terrific coach in Richie Adubato. The Mystics will face a serious challenge if they stay in the fourth spot and have to play Connecticut in the first round, but it has been a really nice season for Washington to build on. They are playoff-bound, Alana Beard is exception, DeLisha Milton-Jones is back and they made some good trades in the offseason. Could they steal a game or two in a three-game format? Absolutely."

How do you feel about the Monarchs chance of repeating as champs? Why does everyone keep underrating this team? They have the heart of the champions and finally have the taste of blood.
-Martina, Valley Stream, N.Y.
"I do not think that Monarchs are underrated at all. People know how good they are. They are well-respected around the WNBA with an All-Decade player like Yolanda Griffith. Ticha Penicheiro is still the catalyst, Kara Lawson can be a great player off the bench or as a starter, DeMya Walker is starting to get into shape and they have been there already. The only difference from last season is that they lost their best perimeter defender in Chelsea Newton. It took the younger players some time to learn the system, Walker was out with her pregnancy and they had some other injuries, but this team is coming together at the right time. They have won 11 of their last 15 games and are giving up somewhere around 65 points per game. You know they can defend, they have shooters and a good inside game. That sounds like a good formula to me."

Nancy, As our source for all things good and true, help us out with some injury news... Do you think Nykesha Sales will be able to recover from her injury and make an impact in the playoffs? And do you know if Tina Thompson will be able to return for the playoffs? Thanks!
-Barbara, Moberly, MO
"I would suspect that Tina will be back for the playoffs. I talked to her in Sacramento on Tuesday. She was hoping to be back before Friday night's game against Minnesota, but she did tweak her calf again in practice. I am not sure she will be ready for the Lynx as she did strain the muscle again. She was very disappointed to say the least, but they will do whatever they can to have her ready for the playoffs. If Nykesha Sales is ready to play, Coach Thibault will bring her back into the fold so she gets a couple of games under her belt before the playoffs starts. Whether it is five minutes of 25 minutes, she should play as soon as she is ready."

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