Experts tab Mercury the unanimous favorites in West finals

Updated: August 29, 2007, 3:25 PM ET
ESPN.com

Phoenix went 3-1 against San Antonio in the regular season. How will their Western Conference finals matchup shake out? ESPN.com columnists Mechelle Voepel and Graham Hays and ESPN analyst Nancy Lieberman make their picks:

WHO WILL ADVANCE TO THE WNBA FINALS?
Expert Series breakdown Who wins?
Graham Hays
Graham Hays
Nothing against a terrific San Antonio team that proved its postseason mettle after losing the opening game against Sacramento and after squandering a lead late in the clincher, but why go against the hottest team in the league at this point in time?

Seattle's strengths and weaknesses played right into Phoenix's hands in a way the Silver Stars' will not, but it was impossible not to come away impressed with the Mercury's defensive execution in the first round, especially Diana Taurasi's physical play against Lauren Jackson. And that doesn't even address another typically dazzling offensive exhibition from Taurasi, Cappie Pondexter and Penny Taylor (and timely shooting from Kelly Miller and Kelly Mazzante). It's scary to pick a team that was last in the league in rebounding margin, and last by a large number, but the Mercury seem to get away with it.

Sacramento, with postseason experience, rebounding ability and half-court execution, might have presented the perfect storm capable of disrupting the flow of Paul Westhead's system, but the Monarchs didn't shoot well enough (or perhaps more accurately, weren't allowed to shoot well enough) to get out of the first round. The Silver Stars, with an athletic front line that could cause problems, will take some of the shine off the Mercury's star, but the top seed is too tough to bet against.
Mercury
Phoenix
(In three games)
Nancy Lieberman
Nancy Lieberman
I have yet to see anybody who can match the Mercury consistently. They just have so many offensive weapons, and their scoring puts so much pressure on the opponent to either try and match Phoenix or find a way to stop it. Plus, Phoenix has played pretty much flawless basketball the past 16 games and is riding a tremendous wave of momentum.

The rover defense enabled the Mercury to limit leading MVP candidate Lauren Jackson in the first round. If they can keep that up, and if Diana Taurasi can continue to play such stunning defense, San Antonio's arsenal is in trouble, too.
Mercury
Phoenix
(In three games)
Mechelle Voepel
Mechelle Voepel
The Silver Stars might well carry over the momentum of their Game 3 victory against Sacramento and hold serve on their home court Thursday.

But … Phoenix is the most talented team in the West and comes into the conference finals with a lot of confidence. Even if the Mercury lose the series opener, that confidence won't be dented.

Plus, Phoenix might be able to force San Antonio into a lot of turnovers, which could be critical. Sacramento wasn't able to do that to the Silver Stars in the deciding game of their series.
Mercury
Phoenix
(In three games)