The 2019 WNBA playoffs are underway. No. 5 seed Chicago beat eighth-seeded Phoenix 105-76 to reach the second round. No. 6 Seattle, the defending WNBA champion, beat 7-seed Minnesota 84-74 to advance. Here are the top storylines from the first round.
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In her second WNBA season and first playoff game, Diamond DeShields looked the part of the emerging superstar. Chicago cruised past Phoenix, sending the Sky into a much-anticipated showdown with Las Vegas in the second round Sunday (ESPN2, 5 p.m. ET). DeShields had 25 points, shooting 52.6% from the field, to go along with four rebounds and three assists. With Brittney Griner limited because of a knee injury suffered in the second quarter, the Sky's inside game thrived, too, as Astou Ndour and Stefanie Dolson each scored 16 points, and Cheyenne Parker had 11. The Sky shot 53.2% overall, and 50% (9 of 18) from 3-point range. -- Mechelle Voepel
After a two-year absence from the WNBA playoffs, the No. 5 seed Chicago Sky dominated injury-plagued No. 8 Phoenix 105-76 in a first-round playoff game. Mercury guard Diana Taurasi (hamstring) didn't play, and center Brittney Griner was limited by a knee injury suffered in second quarter. Griner, the WNBA's leading scorer in the regular season, played just under 14 minutes and scored six points. Phoenix just never really jelled this season, as Taurasi played in just six games because of injuries. But make no mistake, this was the Sky's game, and they move on to face Las Vegas in a single-elimination second-round game Sunday. Diamond DeShields led Chicago with 25 points, and espnw first-team all-WNBA selection Courtney Vandersloot had nine points and 11 assists.
In a battle of the past two teams to win WNBA titles, defending champion Seattle is the one still standing. The Storm beat Minnesota thanks largely to a splendid backcourt performance that was cheered on by the injury-sidelined Sue Bird. Jordin Canada, Bird's understudy at point guard last year as a rookie, had 26 points, and fellow guard Jewell Loyd scored 22. The oddest thing about this game is that each team's leading scorer this season was essentially shut down. Forward Natasha Howard had only two points for the Storm, and guard Odyssey Sims had only one point for the Lynx.
Minnesota had to like what it got from rookie Napheesa Collier, who was 8 of 11 from the field for 19 points with 10 rebounds, and fellow forward Damiris Dantas had 20 points and six rebounds. Those are two young players to build around, and the Lynx will have veteran center Sylvia Fowles back next season, too. And Sims, despite her struggles Wednesday, has been a strong addition to the Lynx. Will Maya Moore return next season? We'll have to wait and see. And in a season in which the Storm didn't have Bird or 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart, making it this far is quite a success. -- Mechelle Voepel
Canada pulls hesitation crossover out of her bag of tricks
Jordin Canada pulls the ball back, then uses a head fake to blow by her defender for the layup to increase the Storm's lead.
In a matchup of the last two WNBA title winners, the reigning champion Seattle Storm eliminated the Minnesota Lynx with an 84-74 first-round victory Wednesday at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett. Storm guards Jordin Canada (a career-high 26 points) and Jewell Loyd (22) combined to outscore their Minnesota counterparts 48-1 as Seattle advanced to take on the No. 3 seed L.A. Sparks in a second-round playoff game on Sunday.
Famous fans on hand
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She has a dazzling first name, a famous last name, otherworldly talent and a head-scratching résumé. @diamonddoesit1's career is full of unanswered questions. The biggest one: Can she be the greatest player in the game? https://t.co/EM2SjfhZ90— espnW (@espnW) September 11, 2019
From preseason favorite to first-round exit
A bit of a rollercoaster ride being picked as the preseason favorites and having to end the season like this. But we're ride or die XFactor 🙅🏽♀️ Proud of my team. #WNBAPlayoffs— Diana Taurasi's Bun (@DT3sBun) September 12, 2019