When you’re the champ, every opponent you face will give you their best shot, and last Saturday’s game versus the Las Vegas Aces was an important reminder for the Seattle Storm.
But give credit to the Aces. They showed up and played lights out, despite a big performance from Breanna Stewart. They did everything you’re supposed to do to win a game against the champs. They out-hustled, out-rebounded, and ultimately out-scored the Storm to earn the dub.
Here are my 5 key takeaways from that game:
- No Sue Bird
The Storm missed their floor general, who sat out with a nagging knee injury, and it really showed in the game versus the Aces. Her ability to get her teammates open looks and clutch 3-pt making capabilities were absent, which would have made a difference in the final outcome of the game.
- Slow Start, Strong Finish
The Aces outscored the Storm in the 2nd quarter, 26-11. By halftime, the score was 45-29, in favor of the Aces. It could have been a blowout, but the Storm fought their way back into the game. They scored 23 points in the 3rd and outscored the Aces 22-13 in the 4th, but they simply ran out of time.
- The Aces Out-rebounded the Storm 44-34
Defense wins championships, and the team that controls the boards usually wins the game. That proved true once again in last Saturday’s game. Extra possessions and second-chance points for the Aces gave them the edge, despite a big performance from Breanna Stewart.
- Team Ball Shines Brighter Than Star Power
Breanna Stewart had a solid game. She scored 29 points and snagged 18 rebounds, but she wasn’t very efficient. She shot 2 of 8 from beyond the arc, and only made 10 out of her 25 shot attempts.
However, that wasn’t the stat of the night. It wasn’t a question if the stars would show up that night; it was whether the rest would show up.
At halftime, Stewie had 15 points, and the rest of her team scored 14 points. While on the opposite end, A’ja Wilson had 11 points, and the rest of her team scored 34 points.
- You Don’t Need To Make 3’s To Win The Game
The Storm are one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the league, but not that night. They shot a measly 30% from beyond the arc, making only 7 of 26. Overall, they shot 37%, making 28 of 75 FG attempts. It was certainly an off-shooting night for the Storm.
Meanwhile, the Aces played some old-school basketball. They scored 3 points the hard way and beat you on the boards. They only took 11 attempts from beyond the arc and made 2 of them. They shot 44% overall from the floor, making 30 out of 68 shots.
However, the most impactful stat was free throws. The Storm shot 11 of 14 from the line, while the Aces shot 20 of 25 from the line. For a team that wants to play fast and wants to run up and down the court, nothing disrupts that play style more than stopping the clock with free throws.
These two playoff contenders will face each other again in 5 days, and I’m excited for the rematch. You can expect a playoff-like atmosphere with these two teams, and I think the Storm will find a way to pull themselves back together from this 2-game losing streak.
But first, they will have to get back to championship form against the Indiana Fever on Tuesday night. The Fever are currently 5-8 on the season, but they’re not to be taken lightly. Because when you’re the champs, every opponent you face brings their A-game.
There’s 8 games left in the regular season. As much as I loved the hot start from the Seattle Storm, it’s not about how you start, but how you finish. We still have the #1 seed, but it’s far from over. I’m excited to see how this team will respond to adversity.