Seattle Storm Game Review: Bre Mode

Look at ThatAfter laying an egg on offense in their defeat Sunday to the Atlanta Dream, the Seattle Storm exploded for 96 points in a win over the Chicago Sky on Tuesday night.

The Storm erased a 14-point deficit in the second half, the second time this year the Sky blew a 14-point lead over Seattle.

Breanna Stewart had a season-high 30 points to go along with seven rebounds and three blocks. Jewell Loyd and Natasha Howard chipped in with 19 and 15 points, respectively, with Loyd adding five rebounds and five assists to her solid night.

The Storm didn’t have much answer for the duo of Diamond DeShields and Allie Quigley, who combined to pour in 42 points. Without Stefanie Dolson, though, Chicago ran out of gas in the fourth quarter.

The Game in a GIF

Breanna Stewart Go-Ahead JumperAfter Breanna Stewart hit this jumper to put the Storm ahead 77-75, Seattle never trailed for the rest of the game. The shot was emblematic of two things: The Storm didn’t panic when they got down by 14 points, and the Sky couldn’t stop Stewart. She finished 9-of-13 from the field.

The Good

  • When Tiffany Hayes pulled Breanna Stewart’s hair in Sunday’s game, she must have triggered something in Stewart. How else do you explain Stewart going 4-of-6 from beyond the arc against the Sky after she didn’t hit more than two three-pointers in any of her previous nine games?
    It was really good to see Stewart find her shooting stroke, something that felt inevitable despite her hitting just 25 percent of her threes to start the season.
    Stewart’s three-point struggles weren’t preventing her from having the best offensive year of her career to date, which is why it’ll be such a huge bonus if she can be a 35 to 40 percent shooter from beyond the arc on top of the progress she has made as an inside scorer.
  • Jewell Loyd shot 5-of-17 in each of the Storm’s two most recent losses, which raised the fear she was going to slip back to her 2015-17 self after a hot start. Instead, she rebounded to hit eight of her 11 shots Tuesday night, with seven of her made field goals coming inside the three-point line.shotchart(2)Loyd was really aggressive inside with Stefanie Dolson and Alaina Coates absent to provide much-needed size for Chicago.Jewell Loyd Drive Sky
  • Courtney Paris picked Jordin Canada up like a child, which made for a great visual.Screen Shot 2018-06-13 at 12.50.00 PM
  • Remember how I said before that Paris could be something of a playmaker in the paint. This is definitely what I had in mind.Courtney Paris Skip Pass
  • The bench was excellent after vanishing in the defeat to the Dream. Paris had six points and eight rebounds in a little over 17 minutes, and her presence inside was a big help on defense. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis only scored five points but added two rebounds and four assists. Her defense was also significantly better compared to her performance against Atlanta.KML Defense on CopperHere are the plus-minus numbers for Seattle’s five players to come off the bench Tuesday: plus-four, plus-12, plus-17, plus-12 and plus-nine. The Sky were down to eight players in their rotation, so depth was a clear area for the Storm to exploit. Head coach Dan Hughes more than capitalized on that edge.

The Bad

  • Canada left the game in the third quarter after rolling her ankle while driving to the basket. She finished with four points and two rebounds in a little over 10 minutes. At the time, the injury didn’t look too bad, and the Storm have two days off before their next game, so Canada will have some time to heal.
    This is why re-signing Noelle Quinn was a good move for Seattle, though. In the event Canada missing Friday’s matchup with the Connecticut Sun, having a proven guard in Quinn to back up Bird will be more reassuring for the Storm than if they had to rely on another inexperienced rookie against the best team in the league.

The Ugly

  • One of the problems with playing the Sky is the Storm can’t really hide Sue Bird on anybody when she’s on the floor. Seattle has done well to move her around to avoid any matchup disadvantages, but that’s not really possible when the alternatives to Bird guarding Allie Quigley are putting her on Courtney Vandersloot or Diamond DeShields. Because of that, it’s little surprise Bird finished with the worst defensive rating (134.9) on the team.
  • Simply put, it’s not exactly great when the Storm are allowing a short-handed Sky squad to drop 85 points—78.4 is their season average—and hit 13 three-pointers. Tuesday represented a regression from the Dream defeat, when Seattle at least succeeded in throwing Atlanta into disarray on offense.

The Verdict

The game was closer than it probably should’ve been, as Seattle really came off the rails in the third quarter. But the Storm fought back, which is a testament to the team’s belief and composure late in games. Playing the 7-1 Connecticut Sun on Friday will serve as another barometer for just how good Seattle is.

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