What do you get the team that has everything? Seattle Storm general manager Alisha Valavanis and head coach Dan Hughes are about to find out as they look to build on a 2018 season in which the Storm were WNBA champions for the third time.
Incremental change was the theme of the 2018 offseason.
Valavanis didn’t panic after a season in which Seattle finished eighth and fired its head coach in the middle of the year.
The Storm could’ve taken a chance on a young first-year head coach. Instead, they hired Hughes, one of the most experienced coaches in WNBA history.
And rather than shaking up the roster, Valavanis signed eight-year veteran Courtney Paris and acquired Natasha Howard in a sign-and-trade with the Minnesota Lynx. Howard was a revelation in her first year with the team and the missing piece of the proverbial puzzle, but it didn’t look like Seattle got demonstrably better ahead of the 2018 campaign.
The Seattle Storm are going to the 2018 WNBA Finals.
Seattle defeated the Phoenix Mercury 94-84 in Game 5 of the WNBA semifinals, outscoring the Mercury 35-21 in the fourth quarter, on Tuesday night in KeyArena.
Per usual, Breanna Stewart led the way with 28 points and seven rebounds. For long stretches, Stewart was single-handedly keeping the Storm afloat on offense as the team struggled with Phoenix’s suffocating defense.
Sue Bird was the big star, though, finishing with 22 points, including 14 in the final frame. Bird gave the Storm a 79-76 lead with 4:01 remaining, and her three-pointer with 2:51 left to put Seattle ahead by eight was essentially the death blow for the Mercury.
Diana Taurasi—who ICYMI was unbeaten in winner-take-all elimination games—had 17 points, while Brittney Griner posted 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
The Seattle Storm drew first blood in their 2018 WNBA playoff semifinal series against the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday at KeyArena in Seattle.
Hours after she was named the 2018 WNBA MVP, Breanna Stewart scored 28 points to lead all players. She was particularly deadly from beyond the arc, hitting six of her nine three-pointers.
Jewell Loyd also had 23 points, thus making Seattle 11-0 this season when she eclipses the 20-point mark. Like Stewart, Natasha Howard commemorated her Most Improved Player Award with a big game, scoring 20 points and collecting five rebounds.
For the Mercury, DeWanna Bonner and Diana Taurasi scored 27 and 25 points apiece, but Brittney Griner battled foul trouble for much of the game, thus limiting her impact on the floor. She finished with 13 points and four rebounds.
Game 2 is scheduled for Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET in Seattle.
The Seattle Storm maintained a two-game lead on the Atlanta Dream with an 81-72 win over the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday in Minneapolis.
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Natasha Howard relished the opportunity to once again embarrass her old team. She led the Storm with 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting. Breanna Stewart had 17 points and a season-high 17 rebounds, which also tied her career high.
The Lynx own the fourth-best defensive rating in the WNBA (99.0), but the Storm shot 47.1 percent from the field as a team and were 11-of-25 on three-pointers.
It was another big win for Seattle as it looks to lock down the No. 1 seed in the WNBA playoffs.
The Seattle Storm wrapped up the second half of a back-to-back Tuesday night, defeating the Indiana Fever, 94-79. The Storm notched a 96-80 win over the New York Liberty to start the week.
Breanna Stewart scored a game-high 32 points against the Liberty, the ninth time she has hit the 30-point mark in her WNBA career. She followed up with 17 points, 12 rebounds and four assists against the Fever.
Natasha Howard was excellent in both outings as well, going for 14 points and 10 rebounds Monday and then 19 points and eight rebounds Tuesday.
Likewise, Sue Bird continued to be a model of consistency, totaling 26 points and 15 assists over the two games.
You’ve probably noticed by now I haven’t written about the Seattle Storm in nearly a month.
Regular readers are likely disappointed by this development, but I’m not overly concerned because that would mean I actually have regular readers to this extremely niche WordPress blog.
I stopped writing here for the time being upon becoming a contributor for High Post Hoops. Fear not, for I continue to break down Storm games, which you can read here.
My work can be featured in front of a larger audience at High Post, and I can help strengthen coverage of the Storm for the site.
I’ll still keep Witty Weather Pun up and running and maybe make the occasional post here and there. But head to High Post Hoops for the more regular Storm content as they march on to a WNBA title in 2018.