July 31, 2020 

Storm’s shooting goes cold as Mystics catch fire

In a matchup of unbeaten teams, Seattle came up short. What can be learned?

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Seattle Storm forward Natasha Howard (6) during the WNBA game between the Seattle Storm and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on June 16, 2019. Photo Credit: Chris Poss

Every team has games where the shots fall like throwing a tennis ball into a bathtub. Other games, it seems like the rim has a lid on it. The latter describes the Seattle Storm’s shooting night on Thursday.

After connecting on 11-of-25 3-pointers against the Minnesota Lynx in their previous game, the Storm were a dismal 5-for-25 from deep in their 89-71 loss to the Washington Mystics.

“I thought we got a lot of good looks. I thought I got a lot of good looks. I think the ball just didn’t go in the basket. This is our third game and we haven’t played in a while and we have to be conscientious of the fact that we got to get our legs underneath us,” said Breanna Stewart after the game.“This isn’t going to be easy playing here in the bubble especially with all the games coming up but continuing to do what we can to recover and then make sure that we make an emphasis to kind of use our legs.”

While the Storm were trying to get their legs underneath them, their opponent was launching away. Washington made five 3-pointers in each of the first two quarters. Whether open or contested, the Mystics created and converted each of these shots to build an 18-point lead at halftime and never look back.

“For whatever reason, we just didn’t come out with a whole lot of energy. They played really well. They have some outstanding shooters and I felt like we just gave them too much room,” said Storm coach Gary Kloppenburg.“When a team gets momentum like that and hits some shots they get a lot of confidence, and I thought they were playing with a lot of energy on the defensive end.”

“It’s going to happen, you just come out and, for whatever reason, it’s hard to pinpoint why it just looked like we were a step slow on everything in that first half. That’s the thing that we really have to play with high energy at the defensive end and also hit shots. We were 5-for-25 from three, and a lot of them were good open looks. That definitely is going to be a major factor for us because we do take a lot of threes.”

A lot of the credit for the Storm’s poor offensive night should go to the Mystics. Yes, the Storm missed many of the same shots they made in their previous game, but the Mystics made shooters work harder to get to their spots and forced many difficult passes resulting in turnovers.

Not only did the Mystics make 10 more 3-pointers than the Storm, but they also forced 18 turnovers — many of them bad passes — while committing just eight themselves. Seemingly any time the Mystics could get set on the defensive end, they were going to force the Storm to do something they didn’t want to do.

In the end, the Storm shot just under 40 percent from the field on Thursday and just two players, Stewart and Sami Whitcomb finished in double-figure scoring. Aside from a 9-2 run in the middle of the fourth quarter, it never felt like the Storm were going to mount a comeback. There were zero ties or lead changes after the 2-2 score at the beginning of the first quarter.

What Seattle can takeaway from Thursday night is they won’t miss 20 3-pointers and shoot 39 percent from the field on most nights. Nor will their scoring be so imbalanced and so turnover prone.

When a good shooting team gets going, it can create a long night for their opponent. This was the case on Tuesday when Seattle shot their way past Minnesota. It just so happened that Thursday was the Storm’s night to have an off-game.

As Stewart said after the game, the turnaround for these games is so short the Storm will have to move on from this loss and get ready for Saturday night.

Written by Derek James

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