By any number of metrics, the 2018 season was the best of Loyd’s WNBA career. She was an All-Star for the first time and set personal highs in win shares (4.2), win shares per 40 minutes (.164) and net rating (14.1). She also had a .550 true shooting percentage and .501 effective field-goal percentage, both of which were career highs.
The way in which Loyd adapted her game to suit the Storm’s needs was particularly notable.
Loyd’s 24.4 usage rate was her lowest since her rookie year in 2015, and she attempted the fewest shots (12.6) since then as well. Whereas scoring accounted for a large chunk of Loyd’s contributions through her first three seasons, she focused on helping the Storm in other areas of the game in 2018. She averaged 4.6 rebounds—more than a full rebound better than her previous career high—and her defensive rating fell to 97.6 after hitting 104.7 and 103.3 in 2016 and 2017.
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 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.
The Seattle Storm picked up another big win Friday against the Connecticut Sun, handing the Sun their third straight loss in an 103-92 victory.
Breanna Stewart nearly had a double-double, scoring 23 points and grabbing nine rebounds, while Natasha Howard had a team-high 25 points. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis also delivered 18 points off the bench to make up for inefficient performances by Sue Bird and Jewell Loyd, who combined to shoot 6-of-25.
Although the Sun only shot 8-of-26 from beyond the arc, they had a lot of success inside. Chiney Ogwumike had 30 points on 13-of-16 shooting, while Jasmine Thomas poured in 29 points.
After 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 Seattle Storm had their worst offensive game of the season Sunday against the Atlanta Dream, losing 67-64 at home in KeyArena.
The Storm shot 33.8 percent as a team and connected on just four of their 26 attempts from beyond the arc. Natasha Howard had a double-double (15 points, 15 rebounds), but it was mostly a night to forget for Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd, who combined for 26 points. Stewart played just 19:30 while battling foul trouble.
Tiffany Hayes led all scorers with 23 points, while the Storm mostly held Angel McCoughtry in check, as she shot 6-of-19 for 15 points.