But as the rest of the WNBA knows, Seattle having home-court advantage is a big problem for the Storm’s opponent.
In Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Los Angeles Sparks on Wednesday night, the Storm’s home-court advantage was on display for everyone in Key Arena to see, most notably the Sparks.
The Storm came out with playoff intensity en route to a 79-66 victory over the Sparks.
The Storm leads the best-of-three playoff series 1-0, with Game 2 schedule for noon on Saturday in Los Angeles.
“Every game in a short series like this is extremely important,” Storm head coach Brian Agler said after the game.
The first half was a clinic on how to play team basketball. The Storm opened up an early lead as Lauren Jackson scored the game’s first four points. Then it was Swin Cash, who finished with a team-high 20 points, scoring four in a row. Next Sue Bird scored four straight of her own. Svetlana Abrosimova connected on a 3-pointer. By the end of the first quarter the Storm had built a 25-15 lead.
“Against a team as good as Seattle, we have to come out of the blocks ready to play,” Sparks head coach Jennifer Gillom said.
The second quarter wasn’t much different. It only featured a different Storm player stepping up to lead the team. Reserve forward Jana Vesela made her first appearance of the game as the second quarter started and she made the most of it. Vesela connected on all four of her field-goal attempts in the period, including three 3s to keep the Storm in front 43-33 at halftime.
Vesela scored all 11 of her points in the second quarter.
“Jana played a magnificent game. The minutes she gave were just huge,” Agler said.
As so many different players stepped up in the first half to score for the Storm, they needed a player to get them the ball. As usual, it was Bird. Bird had nine assists in the half.
Just as important as the Storm’s success on the offensive end, was the team’s effort defensively.
“I thought they came out very aggressive defensively,” Gillom said.
“I really think it came down to our defense,” Cash said. “When we are like that, when we have a lot of energy on the defensive end, usually good things are going to happen for us.
It wasn’t hard to find great individual performances for the Storm, but perhaps the statistic that stuck out the most was a team stat. The Storm shot 60 percent (18-for-30) from the field in the first half. Seattle shot 56.1 percent (32-for-57) for the game.
Part of that great team shooting performance was made by Cash. Cash shot 9-for-14 from the field en route to her team-high 20 points.
“Swin was really energetic tonight,” Agler said. “She is just a really good competitor.”
Jackson finished the game with 17 points and nine rebounds. Bird chipped in nine points and had 12 assists for the Storm.
Marie Ferdinand-Harris scored 18 points for the Sparks. Tina Thompson and Kristi Toliver each scored 16 for L.A.
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