The readers like the Seattle Storm’s championship chances — in a big way.
The WNBA playoffs began this week in the league’s bubble in Bradenton, Florida. The Storm, three-time WNBA champs, are looking to bring home championship trophy No. 4, and they do so from an advantageous position as they earned the No. 2 seed to the postseason, receiving a double-bye into the semifinals.
Therefore, this week’s Seattle Sidelines poll asked readers whether they thought the Storm would win the WNBA title.
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) September 14, 2020
Adding together the votes between the poll posted on Twitter and the one posted on the blog and the responders are very confident in Seattle’s chances, as 77% of voters picked the Storm to claim the championship, while 23% said they wouldn’t.
This is a heavy amount of belief in the Storm, especially considering Seattle isn’t even the top seed. The Storm and the Las Vegas Aces finished the regular season with identical 18-4 records, and the Aces earned the No. 1 seed by virtue of winning both head-to-head meetings. That in its own right suggests Seattle is anything but a shoo-in.
However, the seeding isn’t a full picture of how the teams truly stack up against one another, either. Las Vegas earned the top seed by beating Seattle 86-84 in last Sunday’s season finale. But Seattle was severely short-handed, as 2018 WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart (foot) and legendary point guard Sue Bird (knee) were held out of the game as injury precautions. Storm coach Gary Kloppenburg told the media Wednesday that both are expected back for the team’s playoff opener. So that tips the scales considerably.
The Aces certainly are a significant obstacle in Seattle’s path. Las Vegas forward A’ja Wilson was named the league’s MVP Thursday after a season in which she averaged 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots per game — Stewart finished second in the voting. The Aces are also a deep team with five players averaging double-digit scoring, two of whom come off the bench. But Seattle has its entire starting five from its 2018 championship team back, and all five are matching their play from two years ago.
The best-of-five semifinals begin Sunday, and as of Thursday afternoon Seattle still didn’t know who its opponent would be. In Tuesday’s single-elimination first round, the fifth-seeded Phoenix Mercury beat the eighth-seeded Washington Mystics 85-84, and the seventh-seeded Connecticut Sun topped the sixth-seeded Chicago Sky 94-81. The Mercury faced the fourth-seeded Minnesota Lynx and the Sun faced the third-seeded Los Angeles Sparks in Thursday evening’s single-elimination second-round to determine the other two semifinalists. The Storm face the highest seed from Thursday’s winners.
All the games are being televised on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.