Experts split on East finals favorite

Updated: August 29, 2007, 4:24 PM ET
ESPN.com

Phoenix is the experts' unanimous pick to win the Western Conference finals. But they split on the East finals favorite. A look at how ESPN.com columnists Mechelle Voepel and Graham Hays and ESPN analyst Nancy Lieberman expect the East to shape up:

WHO WILL ADVANCE TO THE WNBA FINALS?
Expert Series breakdown Who wins?
Graham Hays
Graham Hays
In knocking off Indiana and Connecticut en route to the WNBA Finals last season, Detroit's smallest margin of victory was 11 points. Sure, the Shock dropped one game against the Sun in Connecticut during that run, but they looked throughout like a team capable of imposing their will any time they worked up the energy to do so.

Against the Liberty in the first round this year, they looked more like a desperate group fighting for their basketball survival. And that vulnerability, as much as last year's swagger and bravado, is why they can deny Indiana that franchise's first trip to the WNBA Finals.

The Shock aren't as dominant as they were last season. Katie Smith continues to suffer through one of her worst shooting seasons, making it easier for opponents to play zones that pack the interior against Cheryl Ford, Kara Braxton and Katie Feenstra and clog the space Deanna Nolan and Swin Cash cut through on their drives to the basket. But Detroit is still the best rebounding team in the league and athletic enough on defense to close out on Indiana's shooters without giving up anything down low.

The Shock shot 38.4 percent from the floor, 19.5 percent from behind the arc and 59.6 percent from the free-throw line against the Liberty … and still won the series.

Sometimes a team's biggest selling point can be exactly how bad they looked in victory.
Shock
Detroit
(In three games)
Nancy Lieberman
Nancy Lieberman
The Shock have the ability to win, but sometimes I wonder where their will to win is? They just don't play hard the whole time. Detroit is an emotional team that sometimes is at its best when forced to play through its self-caused chaos. But will the real Detroit Shock show up in the East finals?

Plus, Indiana matches up well with the defending champions. If Detroit goes big, Alison Bales can guard Katie Feenstra. Tamika Catchings can guard Cheryl Ford or Plenette Pierson inside.

But Indiana just has more depth (other than Pierson, Detroit's success depends on its starters reaching double figures). The Fever are shooting extremely well and playing as free and relaxed as ever.
Fever
Indiana
(In three games)
Mechelle Voepel
Mechelle Voepel
Both teams had to work very hard to get to this point, which is where most people expected them to be. They are the most talented teams in the conference, but they've each had injury hurdles.

Ultimately, Detroit is probably the team that will play the best in the clutch -- and the Shock will have two games at home if they need both of them.
Shock
Detroit
(In three games)