August 13, 2020 

Sue Bird’s return shows how important she still is

Bird helped guide Seattle to a blowout victory

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PALMETTO, FL – AUGUST 12: Sue Bird #10 of the Seattle Storm shoots the ballagainst the Atlanta Dream on August 12, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center inPalmetto, Florida. (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

Roughly one week after the Atlanta Dream gave the Seattle Storm a scare, the Storm redeemed themselves on Wednesday night. In their 100-63 victory, Seattle tied an NBA record with 18 made three-pointers. Sami Whitcomb and Jewell Loyd both finished with 20 points and combined for 10 threes.

Perhaps the best news for Seattle was the return of point guard Sue Bird. Bird had missed the team’s last five games with a bruised knee on the same leg she had surgery on a year ago. With Jordin Canada and Whitcomb, the Storm could afford to give Bird all the rest she needs.

Despite Seattle’s depth, Bird is still a valuable player at age 39. In her 18th season, Bird’s spot in the starting lineup is more than a legacy honor. The future Hall of Famer is averaging 10.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. Bird is also as efficient as ever, shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 52.4 from beyond the arc.

In her return on Wednesday, Bird shot 3-for-5 from deep and finished with nine points, seven assists, and three rebounds. Her coach was pleased with her performance.

“She did a fantastic job. Seven assists, 3-for-5 from three, we’re just so much better offensively with her out there. Not only can she shoot it, but she finds people, she’s just so good in our running game. That, to me, is really encouraging going forward,” said coach Gary Kloppenburg. “With Sue, and Jordin [Canada] backing her up, we can really continue to try and push the pace and put a lot of pressure on teams for 40 minutes. I thought she did a fantastic job out there on both ends of the court.”

This is the luxury for both Bird and the Storm. Canada would start for most other teams in the league, but comes off the bench for Seattle. Few opponents have the reserve point guard to contend with Canada. She and Bird each played 21 minutes Wednesday night and Canada added 10 assists of her own. Given the two point guards’ longstanding friendship, there’s no point guard controversy in Seattle

Bird also doesn’t have to be the Storm’s best player every night. Natasha Howard can guard almost anyone and Breanna Stewart and Loyd can easily handle the offensive load any given night. Wednesday night showed that Bird and the Storm are still an ideal fit almost 20 years later.

While the Storm played well in her absence, they know Bird is still an integral part of their team.

“She was the missing piece, our team was complete again and she’s our floor general, she’s our floor leader so just to have her out there with us was a boost in itself,” said forward Alysha Clark.

There will be nights the Storm rest Bird as they prepare for what should be a long playoff run, but they know how valuable she is. Wednesday night was a good example of how much more Bird pushes this already great team over the top.

Written by Derek James

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