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FOUR ON THE FLOOR
Posted by Rob Peterson on Sept. 30 2004 2:30 p.m. ET

IT'S CONFERENCE FINALS TIME!

Welcome to the first WNBA Playoffs 2004 edition of Click and Roll. Some of you may know me from a little blog I write for NBA.com. (Or not. If not, check it out.)

Anyway, if you're wondering about my WNBA cred, I started here as a WNBA.com editor and I distinctly remember listening to Minnesota's Katie Smith's single-game record 46-point performance (in an overtime loss) against the Sparks in 2001 on Real Audio.

So, I go way back with the WNBA. But let's not get lost in the past, shall we? Let's look at the present; that present being the conference finals.

Out West, after losing three playoffs series, including two Western Conference finals series, the Monarchs, finally, FINALLY, removed the Sparks' albatross from around their necks.
-- Sacramento Bee

"Lisa [Leslie] said after six years in this league this is my opportunity to win the championship," Monarchs forward Yolanda Griffith told the SacBee. "But it's not just my opportunity, but for my teammates, the entire Maloof organization and all of Sacramento. I'm not going to think too far ahead; we've still got Seattle."

Oh, yeah, Seattle. Storm, that is. Lauren Jackson, Sue Bird. First time in the Western Conference finals for them after sweeping through the Lynx in their playoffs opener.
-- Seattle P-I

But the Storm are concerned, not only with the Monarchs, but also Sue Bird. Bird's beak is broken.
-- Seattle P-I

I don't know if Storm coach Anne Donovan was trying to be "punny" when she termed the injury "a bad break," but it works on so many levels.

Anyway, are Bird's teammates expecting her to play despite the need to surgically repair the proboscis? Is there any doubt?

"She can't afford to sit out a couple games, so she's got to bear with it," Storm guard Betty Lennox told the Seattle P-I.

That's like a dentist telling you, "You'll only experience minor discomfort." But even Bird thinks she'll be ready for Game 1 Friday in Sacramento (10 p.m. ET, Oxygen).

They'll need their gold medalist. Two of the Storm's three wins against the Monarchs this season were nailbiters.
-- WNBA.com

Finally, a final word on the West. Lost in the Sparks' loss was Teresa Weatherspoon was denied yet another shot at a coveted WNBA title. My question for the 39-year-old vet: Wither Spoon?

Spoon's old squad, the Liberty have once again made it to the Eastern Conference finals (with a chance to make their fifth WNBA Finals trip) with drama befitting their proximity to Broadway. Holy cow, does an ending get better than that? (Sorry, Shock fans.)
-- New York Daily News

Actually, yes. But I digress.
-- WNBA.com

By forcing a Game 3 after losing Game 1 and not having Swin Cash, the Shock showed they had moxie.
-- New York Daily News

Then again, as Shock coach Bill Laimbeer noted after the loss, moral victories don't put rings on fingers.
-- Detroit Free Press

"Not a great day for the Detroit Shock," Laimbeer told the Detroit Free Press. "I thought it was a great day for WNBA basketball. You couldn't find a more competitive, hard-fought game by both teams. Unfortunately, we were on the short end of the stick in this game."

I never knew where the "short end" metaphor came from, so I'll do my best to avoid a transition when talking about the Connecticut Sun. In fact, let's go Beatles on you: Here Come the Sun, for the second year in a row, no less, to the conference finals.
-- Hartford Courant

The Eastern Conference finals, beginning on Friday in New York (7:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV) should be a good one considering the teams' proximity (only 2 hours and 23 minutes by automobile), their identical regular season records (18-16) and that they split the season series (the Liberty won the first and last games, with the Sun taking the middle two).

For the Liberty, expect Crystal Robinson to be a big factor, while the Liberty will need to put the clamps on Sun super rookie, Lindsay Whalen.
-- New York Daily News

Hey, if you don't believe me just read this.
-- WNBA.com

Well, that's the initial assessment for the conference finals. I hope to blog more during the playoffs.

Sue Bird's nose for the ball is now a little more crooked after breaking it against the Lynx.
(Jeff Reinking
NBAE/Getty Images)