Storm Must Look Out For Mystics’ Adjustments
By Dorothy J Gentry
After the Seattle Storm’s convincing Friday night beatdown of the Washington Mystics in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, many may be tempted to start pulling out the brooms.
Who can blame them?
The Storm ran roughshod over the Mystics from the jump, taking key players like Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Tolliver out of their game, making 20 of their first 28 shots and putting up crazy stats like finishing with 18 fast-break points to the Mystics’ 0, and scoring 50 points in the paint compared with 32 for the Mystics.
It definitely seems like the end is near – already – for the Mystics who are playing in their first Finals in franchise history. But the Storm know full well that there are two teams in this series and that the Mystics are just as capable as they are of putting together an outstanding game.
“This is a series,” said Breanna Stewart. “That's the thing about the series. It's not just one game, it's not just one bunch. You have to be ready to take the other team's best shot. They didn't play their best tonight (Friday), but I'm sure that they're going to try to play their best on Sunday.”
For sure, Seattle has seen Washington’s offense at its best and knows to expect a different opponent come Sunday.
“Yeah, obviously they have a lot of weapons and we're very aware of that, and I think the way that the game turned out tonight (Friday), they'll come out Sunday with even more of a fire under them. We need to just be ready for that, Stewart said.
They will be ready, but they can’t get overconfident.
Delle Donne – still dealing with a bone bruise in her left knee - and Toliver both struggled shooting. Ariel Atkins led the Mystics with 23 points, but no other Washington player scored more than Natasha Cloud's 11 points. Their offense was stagnant the whole night.
This type of bad shooting night probably won’t happen again or at least not in a second consecutive game. Not with this team that surprisingly defeated the Atlanta Dream to make it to the Finals.
In addition, it’s unlikely that Howard and Loyd’s Game 1 heroics – where Howard scored 19 points and went 8-of-9 from the field and Loyd scored 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the field – will be repeated.
But it could. And that will be one of several keys for the Storm to win Game 2; keep feeding the Storm’s Big 3 –Stewart (20 pts), Loyd (23 pts) and Howard (17 pts.) who combined for 60 points in Game 1; keep knocking the Mystics off rhythm and let Sue Bird knock down those three’s she’s famous for.
The Storm will also need to keep forcing Mystic turnovers and converting them into fastbreak points just like they did Friday night.
What the Storm need, essentially, is a repeat of Game 1.
To be sure, the Mystics are not just going to lie down and GIVE the Storm the WNBA championship because of a bad shooting night in Game 1.
“It was one of those days they didn't shoot the ball well, Storm Head Coach Dan Hughes said. I mean, there was a couple times I turned to the bench and I just kind of said, well, we dodged a bullet there in regard to it. But it was one of those days that they just kind of missed some looks that they probably won't miss in Game 2.”
Game 1 Notes:
With Friday night’s win, Seattle has now won six straight WNBA Finals games (2004, 2010, 2018) and has won five straight Finals games at home (2004, 2010, 2018). Both marks are the most in Finals history.
Natasha Howard played her 15th Finals game, passing Tamika Catchings and Briann January for 12th all-time in Finals history.
Sue Bird moved into a tie with Katie Douglas for 17th on the all-time Finals assists list with seven dimes in Game 1.