The Seattle Storm are making things look relatively easy this postseason.
Following an impressive showing in the opener of their WNBA Finals, the Storm look to take a 2-0 lead over the Las Vegas Aces on Sunday afternoon at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Though Seattle lost out on the No. 1 playoff seed by losing twice to Vegas during the regular season, it certainly got a little revenge in Game 1 of this series. Breanna Stewart scored 37 points – 11 in the fourth quarter – and pulled down 15 rebounds while blocking four shots to help the Storm to a 93-80 opening win on Friday night.
“I’m excited for the moment and the big stage,” Stewart said. “I expect to be here … This is why I play basketball. This is why I play to have big games to help my teammates in big moments.”
Stewart, actually, got plenty of help from teammates Jewell Loyd, who scored 28, and Sue Bird, who finished with a WNBA-playoffs record 16 assists as the Storm outscored the Aces 24-13 in the fourth quarter to move to 4-0 in the postseason.
“We move (the ball) in a way to create opportunity as a point guard to find the open player,” Bird said. “Assists (are) a two-player thing and (Stewart and Loyd) played amazing (on Friday).”
Las Vegas, which needed the full five games to eliminate Connecticut in the semifinals, remained competitive despite shooting 35.1 percent and allowing Seattle to make half of its shots in the opener. Angel McCoughtry had 20 points and 2020 WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson scored 19 for the Aces, who once again must play from being down in a series after doing the same against the Sun.
“We just got to buckle down and lock in from the start, Wilson said. “There’s no guarantee this series is the exact same. Now, we see the looks we were getting and got to knock those down.”
While Seattle is looking to tie a WNBA record with the franchise’s fourth title, Vegas is filled with plenty of young talent who have never played in games of this magnitude, at this level. However, the Aces can chalk Game 1 up to a potentially valuable learning experience.
“This first one is definitely a big one,” Las Vegas guard Jackie Young told ESPN of the Finals experience. “Just a little bit of nerves and jitters going into it. We know what we can do, we got the nerves out.