With Swin Cash on the sidelines to start the season, the Shock, and Cash, never recovered.
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Shock HERstory
2005 Detroit Shock Year In Review

The 2004 Shock season left a bad taste in the mouths of Detroit fans, players and coaches alike. Despite the team�s .500 regular-season record, a run to the WNBA Finals was still a possibility until an injury to All-Star forward Swin Cash with two games left on the schedule. Without their team captain, Detroit was still able to push the New York Liberty to three games in their first-round playoff series, but that was where their title defense came to a halt.

Heading into the 2005 season, the jury was out on when Cash would return to the Detroit lineup. The team was hopeful that she would be ready for the first game of the regular season, but she wound up missing the first 12 games of the year, and was never at 100 percent the entire summer.

Still, the Shock jumped out to a 4-0 start to the year thanks to the play of several less heralded players. Through those first four games, starting point guard Elaine Powell averaged 9.3 points and connected on 60.0 percent of her field goal attempts; rookie Kara Braxton had two double-figure scoring games and made 55.6 percent of her shots; and Deanna Nolan recorded the fourth triple-double in WNBA history, and set the Shock single-game scoring record with 34 points.

Unfortunately, that four-game winning streak was the only winning streak of any kind the Shock would have until the end of July. From June 8 through July 24, Detroit went 4-12, dropping their overall mark to 8-12 and into fifth place in the Eastern Conference, two-and-a-half games back of the Washington Mystics and the four seed.

Cash returned to the Shock lineup on July 5, but she was still obviously feeling the after effects of her injury. Her explosive drives to the basket that typically resulted in an easy bucket, a trip to the free throw line or both, were a thing of the past. Her field goal percentage was under 40 percent for most of the season, and after averaging 6.8 trips to the free line per game from 2002-04, she walked to the charity stripe just 1.5 times per game in 2005.

Shock Head Coach Bill Laimbeer made two trades during the season to bolster the Shock rotation, the first of which came on June 29 when he acquired Plenette Pierson from the Phoenix Mercury in exchange for Andrea Stinson and Detroit�s second round draft pick in 2006. In her first game in a Shock uniform, Pierson scored 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field. Her field goal percentage hovered around .500 for much of the season, and she proved to be Detroit�s most adept player at getting to the free throw line averaging 4.2 trips to the charity stripe despite playing less than 20 minutes per game.

The second trade came on July 30, and was designed to address, among other things, Detroit�s limited three-point shooting. In 2003, the Shock led the WNBA nailing 38.7 percent of their three-point field goal attempts. In 2004, that percentage fell to 29.7. At the time of the Smith trade, Detroit was making a respectable 33.6 percent of its long-range attempts, but the Shock were taking just 6.4 three balls per game while the average WNBA team attempted 11.9.

The lack of a consistent three-point threat allowed opposing defenses to sag in on Detroit�s post players, which was having a profound impact on their shooting percentages � Ruth Riley was connecting on just 34.7 percent of her field goal attempts at the time of the trade, and Cheryl Ford was making 42.9 percent of her shots. As a team, Detroit was making just 41.8 percent of its two-point field goal attempts at the time of the trade, compared to the 46.2 percent they shot during their championship season.

Unfortunately, the trade did not seem to have any overall impact on the team�s offense. It did, however, take the Shock back on the winning path as back-to-back wins on July 30 and 31 gave them their first winning streak in nearly two months, and wins over New York, Charlotte, Minnesota and San Antonio in mid-August improved the team�s mark to 14-14 � a half game back of fourth in the East.

Despite the rocky middle stretch of the season, Detroit was rewarded with the selection of four players to the Eastern Conference All-Star Team � Cash, Ford, Nolan and Riley. Smith�s addition gave the Shock five All-Stars, and on August 9, Detroit became the first team in WNBA history to start a lineup featuring five current All-Stars.

Eastern Conference Standings
(Through August 13)
Connecticut 226 ---
New York15137.0

At 14-14, and with six games remaining on the schedule, the Shock had its postseason future in its own hands as two games remained with the Washington Mystics whom Detroit was battling, along with New York, for the final two playoff berths.

The Shock lost road games to Phoenix and Los Angeles to fall to 14-16 heading into its August 21 meeting wit Washington, but the Mystics were on a four-game skid of their own and owned a 14-16 record as well. Detroit posted a 66-52 win over Washington as they held the Mystics to 31.4 percent shooting from the field, giving them a one-game lead over D.C. and a leg-up in the tie-breaker between the clubs. With three games remaining on both team�s schedules, the season-ending August 27 game at the MCI Center looked like it could be a winner-take-all affair.

The Mystics picked up an 82-69 win over the Liberty on August 23 while Detroit suffered a difficult defeat at the hands of the last-place Charlotte Sting that same evening to drop the Shock one game back of Washington. Detroit righted the ship on August 25 with a win over the Indiana Fever putting pressure on the Mystics to upend the Connecticut Sun one day later � a Mystics loss to Connecticut would clinch a playoff berth for the Shock because of Detroit�s better record against in-conference opposition, rendering the result of the teams� season-ending meeting moot.

A 24-4 Sun run to close out the first half effectively ended Washington�s season as Connecticut cruised to an 81-47 win over the Mystics. The Shock rested a number of its starters in the season-finale, which Washington won 76-67.

Most four seeds with 16-18 records might be intimidated by facing a one seed that posted an Eastern Conference record 26-8 mark during the regular season, but not Detroit as the Shock had won three of four games against the Sun during the regular season.

Connecticut ignored the regular-season results, however, and jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first half of Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. The Shock rallied early in the second to take a three-point lead, 49-46, with 14:25 to play, but a Katie Douglas bucket capped an 11-2 Sun surge to give Connecticut a lead it would never relinquish as they eventually ran away with a 73-62 win.

Game 2 at Connecticut�s Mohegan Sun Arena played out much like the first with the Sun jumping out to an early double-digit lead, carrying an 11-point advantage into the locker room. A Lindsay Whalen jumper gave the Sun its largest lead of the night, 54-40, with 12:53 left on the clock.

Detroit clawed back into the game, however, closing to within three at 70-67 with 2:19 remaining. Unfortunately for the Shock faithful, it was the last points Detroit would score as Taj McWilliams-Franklin scored the final five points of the game for Connecticut sending the Shock home for the year.