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|Candace Parker will lead a markedly different Sparks team into the playoffs against San Antonio.|
Playoffs are a time for teams to remember the past with a chance of changing the future. Going forward, each game matters and it's win or go home. The regular season allows teams to jockey for home-court advantage and gain the best position to be the last team standing. This time of the year is what you work the whole season to get to in hopes of winning the championship.
The feelings you get before playoff games are different than regular-season games. Everyone understands the game can come down to a possession or which team makes the last mistake. The atmosphere is filled with pressure and only those who can handle the hype and expectations will survive.
Before games I prepare much in the same way I do for regular games. I admit, in the postseason I get a few butterflies before lineup announcements. But once the ball is tipped, my mind focuses on the game and I forget about my nerves. My mindset going into every postseason game is to remember it is an opportunity. I cannot control if my shots go in, but I can control my aggressiveness and how in-tune and involved I am in the game.
San Antonio is a familiar foe. This is my second time facing them in the postseason. The first time we faced them was in 2008, my rookie season. Sophia Young hit a fall-down bank shot at the buzzer to tie the series. San Antonio went on to take Game 3. To this day, I have never watched that game. To taste the WNBA Finals and to have it slip through your fingers is a painful, unforgettable feeling.
Four years later, both teams face off once again. Although the names on our jerseys may be the same as before, the dynamics of our teams are quite different. No longer am I alongside Lisa Leslie and playing in my rookie season. These playoffs promise to be compelling and exciting. I am ready, are you?