August 19, 2020
Storm trounce Liberty ahead of important games ahead
The Seattle Storm are off to their best start in franchise history, but their next four games will affect their playoff seeding.
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New York Liberty v Seattle StormPALMETTO, FL – AUGUST 18: on August 18, 2020, at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Seattle Storm had a lot of incentive to come out strong against the New York Liberty on Tuesday night. These two teams found themselves on opposing ends of the standings entering the game. However, the Las Vegas Aces, who were then one game back of Seattle in the standings, were still battling the Chicago Sky. Seattle made out with a 105-64 victory over New York and gained another game on Las Vegas in the race for the league’s best record.
Tuesday’s game itself was truly a showcase of two teams at different points in their trajectory. The Storm held the young Liberty to 32.2 percent shooting from the field and forced 23 turnovers resulting in 30 points. Some other interesting notes from this game include:
Seattle had twice as many points (61-28) at the half and shot twice as well (57.5 percent to 28.6 percent) despite having 11 turnovers after two quarters.
The Storm’s 61-point first-half ties a team record set against the Mercury in 2007.
Six Storm scored in double figures: Natasha Howard, Jewell Loyd, Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, Sami Whitcomb, and Epiphanny Prince.
Those six players alone outscored the Liberty 80-64 in the game.
With all due respect to the Liberty, a team that has won without Sabrina Ionescu, it was important the Storm took care of business early. This differs from the Storm team that blew a big lead to Atlanta earlier in August by taking their foot off the gas and escaping with a narrow one-point victory. Since then, the Storm have stopped playing down to inferior teams.
Looking down the road
The real challenge for the Storm comes over the next week. Seattle is now up to two games on Las Vegas but will play the Aces twice in five days (August 22 and August 27). Setting themselves up with extra cushioning in the standings is huge since it’s likely they split those two games with the Aces.
Resting their starters for the entire fourth quarter on Tuesday is huge as the Storm prepares for the Indiana Fever on Thursday. Putting the Fever away early for extra rest should also be a goal, but more difficult to achieve. In that same stretch, the Aces will face the Sun and Wings. Las Vegas will likely know they can’t afford to drop another game if they hope to catch Seattle.
Stewart said it best after the game, “We’re still in this stretch where we have games every other day, but we’re finding our rhythm, and really closing out games, and not letting teams fight back in.”
Seattle may be off to their best start in franchise history, but this coming stretch of games has significant playoff seeding implications. They should treat these games versus the Aces as playoff games, but it’s also important they continue taking other opponents, like the Liberty and Fever seriously, as they did on Tuesday.