- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A look at the four first-round series in the WNBA playoffs, which start Thursday:

No. 1 Atlanta (19-15) vs. No. 4 Chicago (15-19)

Season Series: Sky won 3-2.

Atlanta: The Dream looked good for the first three months of the season before struggling in August and dropping 10 of their final 14 games. The losing skid coincided with the loss of coach Michael Cooper, who missed a half dozen games while dealing with tongue cancer. Angel McCoughtry is the heart and soul of the team, leading the league in steals again. The Dream have reached the WNBA finals in three of the past four seasons, but have yet to win a game in the championship round.

Chicago: No team was more decimated by injuries this season than the Sky and yet Chicago earned a playoff spot for the second straight season. Reigning rookie of the year Elena Delle Donne missed 18 games while recovering from a recurrence of Lyme disease. She’s working her way back to being completely healthy but still only playing just over 20 minutes a game. Point guard Courtney Vandersloot just returned from a knee injury that forced her to miss 16 games.

Prediction: Sky in 3.

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No. 2 Indiana (16-18) vs. No. 3 Washington (15-19)

Season series: Tied 2-2, with the road team winning each matchup.

Indiana: The Fever will try to make one more run for coach Lin Dunn, who is retiring at the end of the season. Indiana was on the outside of the playoffs heading into the final week of the season before winning three straight to secure the No. 2 seed. Tamika Catchings missed the team’s first 17 games while recovering from a back injury. The 35-year-old averaged 23 points during the winning streak and still brings the energy that drives the Fever.

Washington: The Mystics are the youngest team in the playoffs, reaching the postseason for the second straight year under coach Mike Thibault. They struggled down the stretch dropping five of their final eight games. Thibault’s young group is led by All-Star Ivory Latta and Emma Meesseman. The Mystics advanced to the conference finals last season before losing to Atlanta. They lost the only matchup with the Fever in the playoffs in 2009.

Prediction: Fever in 2.

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WESTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 Phoenix (29-5) vs. No. 4 Los Angeles (16-18)

Story Continues →