Throughout the first round of the 2006 WNBA Playoffs, a handful of players raised their game as demonstrated by a rise in their statistical output. Those who elevate their play when the stakes are highers are our early primetime performers.


Lindsay Whalen, Connecticut Sun
Regular Season Stats9.0 ppg3.70 rpg4.6 apg
Playoff Stats18.5 ppg3.50 rpg2.5 apg
+/-+9.5 ppg-0.20 rpg-2.1 spg
Although Whalen's rebounding and assists numbers decreased slightly in Connecticut's first round series against Washington, the Sun guard doubled her scoring average while shooting 50 percent from the field and from the three-point line in two games. Whalen, who had not scored 20 or more points all season, exploded for a game-high 22 points in a 76-61 Game One victory.


Kara Lawson, Sacramento Monarchs
Regular Season Stats8.1 ppg1.91 rpg39.8% 3pt
Playoff Stats14.1 ppg.4.00 rpg55.6% 3pt
+/-+6.0 ppg+2.09 rpg+15.8% 3pt
Sacramento guard Kara Lawson's rebounding numbers may have decreased during the Monarchs first round series sweep against the Comets, but her scoring increased by 5.9 points as she shot an incredible 55.6% from beyond the arc. Lawson has also been taken care of things on the defensive end as her steals numbers are up 1.41 from the regular season.


Tamika Whitmore, Indiana Fever
Regular Season Stats15.5 ppg4.85 rpg45.7% fg
Playoff Stats26.5 ppg6.50 rpg47.5% fg
+/-+11.0 ppg+1.65 rpg+1.8% fg
Despite her team being swept by the Detroit Shock in the first round, Tamika Whitmore put on a show in Game Two as she scored a playoff-record 41 points in a losing effort. During the two-game series, the eight-year veteran averaged 26.5 points while shooting slightly better than she did in the regular season.


Yolanda Griffith, Sacramento Monarchs
Regular Season Stats12.0 ppg6.44 rpg45.7% fg
Playoff Stats16.5 ppg8.0 rpg58.3% fg
+/-+4.5 ppg+1.56 rpg+12.6% fg
The 2005 Finals M.V.P. guided the Monarchs to a first round sweep over the Comets while averaging 4.5 points and 1.56 rebounds more than her regular season averages of 12.0 points and 6.44 rebounds. Griffith scored 16 points and grabbed a game-high rebound in Game One followed by a 17-point, seven rebound performance in Game Two.


Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Connecticut Sun
Regular Season Stats12.8 ppg9.56 rpg2.5 apg
Playoff Stats11.0 ppg14.00 rpg3.0 apg
+/--1.8 ppg+4.44 rpg+0.5 apg
The leagues second best rebounder during the regular season is putting up even better numbers on the boards in the playoffs. After finishing up the regular season with an average of 9.56 rebounds, McWilliams-Franklin averaged 14.0 rebounds during the Sun's first round sweep over the Mystics. She pulled down 14 boards in both games of the series.


Ticha Penicheiro, Sacramento Monarchs
Regular Season Stats5.4 ppg3.4 apg1.97 to
Playoff Stats8.0 ppg7.5 apg0.50 to
+/-+2.6 ppg+4.1 rpg-1.47 to
The WNBA all-time leader in assists ranked No. 14 in assists (a career-low 3.4 apg) during the regular season, but more than doubled her average in the first round of the playoffs. The nine-year veteran had 15:1 assist to turnover ratio.


Rebekkah Brunson, Sacramento Monarchs
Regular Season Stats6.8 ppg5.62 rpg0.5 apg
Playoff Stats12.0 ppg2.00 rpg1.5 apg
+/-+5.2 ppg-3.62 rpg+1.0 apg
Coming off the bench in both of the Monarchs games in the first round, Brunson averaged 12.0 points per game while playing only 17. 5 minutes per game. Her 12.0 points almost doubles her season average of 6.8 points. The third-year forward is also dishing out one more assist per game than her season average.


Mwadi Mabika, Los Angeles Sparks
Regular Season Stats8.5 ppg2.00 rpg0.59 spg
Playoff Stats13.0 ppg5.30 rpg1.67 spg
+/-+4.5 ppg+3.30 rpg+1.08 spg
Due to an injury to Chamique Holdsclaw, Mabika started the second and third games of the three-game series and really stepped up as she helped lead the Sparks to back-to-back wins. The 10-year veteran improved her scoring by 4.5 points and her rebounding by 3.30 rebounds per game.


Deanna Nolan, Detroit Shock
Regular Season Stats13.8 ppg3.6 apg40.5% fg
Playoff Stats16.0 ppg5.0 apg56.5% fg
+/-+2.2 ppg+1.4 apg+16.0% fg
Deanna Nolan went 13-for-23 from the field while averaging 16 points as the Shock swept the Fever in the first round. She also dished out 1.4 assists more per game than she did in the regular season.


Cheryl Ford, Detroit Shock
Regular Season Stats13.8 ppg11.34 rpg49.8% fg
Playoff Stats17.0 ppg10.0 rpg56.0% fg
+/-+3.2 ppg-1.34 rpg+6.2% fg
Cheryl Ford is known more for her rebounding than her offensive play, but the 6-3 center stepped up on the scoring end during the first round as she put up 17.0 points per game while shooting a remarkable 56 percent from the field. During the 2006 regular season, Ford, who has a career scoring average of 11.2 points in 128 games, averaged a career-high 13.8 points per game.


There were also a number of players who didn't quite live up to their regular season stats.


Tully Bevilaqua, Indiana Fever
Regular Season Stats2.09 spg2.3 apg41.1% fg
Playoff Stats0.5 spg1.0 apg20.0% fg
+/--1.59 spg-1.3 rpg-21.1% fg
Bevilaqua was recently named to the WNBA's All-Defense First Team for the second year in a row, but didn't do much on the defensive end during the playoffs as she only recorded one steal in two games. The Fever guard only dished out two assists and shot a miserable 20 percent from the field in two games.


Dawn Staley, Houston Comets
Regular Season Stats7.4 ppg3.9 apg1.03 spg
Playoff Stats1.5 ppg.1.0 apg0.0 spg
+/--5.9 ppg-2.9 apg-1.03 spg
The eight-year veteran only scored three points as her Houston Comets got swept by the Sacramento Monarchs in the first round. Staley, who announced her retirement earlier this year, went scoreless in her final WNBA game.


Nykesha Sales, Connecticut Sun
Regular Season Stats13.0 ppg0.57% fg40.0% 3pt
Playoff Stats3.0 ppg42.9% fg0.0% 3pt
+/--10.0 ppg-42.33% fg-40.0% 3pt
Sales is the perfect example of a superstar who cracked under the pressure of the playoffs. The Sun forward made only one field goal on 17 attempts during Connecticut's first round sweep over Washington. She also missed all seven of her three-point attempts.


Chasity Melvin, Washington Mystics
Regular Season Stats11.9 ppg52.0% fg3.21 pf
Playoff Stats5.5 ppg33.3% fg5.5 pf
+/--6.4 ppg-18.7 fg+2.29 pf
Chasity Melvin scored eight points in a Game One loss to the Sun, but scored only three points on 1-for-9 shooting from the field in a Game Two defeat. The Washington center was also in foul trouble throughout the series as she recorded five fouls in Game One and fouled out in Game Two.


Tina Thompson, Houston Comets
Regular Season Stats18.7 ppg5.62 rpg2.2 apg
Playoff Stats13.5 ppg2.5 rpg1.5 apg
+/--5.2 ppg-3.12 rpg-0.7 apg
Thompson scored 37 and 31 points in the final two games of the regular season, but unfortunately for the Comets, who suffered the worst loss in playoff history in Game Two, she couldn't continue the hot-streak. Thompson scored 13 points on 2-for-8 from the field in Game One and 14 points in Game Two.