Playoffs, First Round
score: Storm 84 Mercury 101 (L) (0-1)
Watch | Hmmm. National A-A-A-A-A-A-A-Anthem
as a-a-a-a-a-a-a gospel song. Maybe it was more of a lounge
jazz rendition. She did start to sca-a-a-a-a-a-t part way
through the song.
Psyche | Why isn't LJ getting the ball? WHY
ISN'T LJ GETTING THE BALL!?!?!
Highlight | Ashley with some big time blockage.
| Those flip guys.
Keyword of the Game | Is this really, you
Photos | Scott
E | Rick
potential last games ever, that kind of sucked. It was like
watching the whole season compressed into one rollercoaster
had all the key elements from this season: the inability to
breakdown a zone defense; the inability to get the ball to
the (eventual) league MVP; the inability to defend the perimeter;
the inability to stop the opponent in transition; the Storm
players getting into stare-downs and arguments with the refs
(even if the refs were way, way off); and not enough production
off the bench (Katie and Tanisha).
game was a study in preparation and knowing your opponent.
Mercury had the Storm scouted to a T (so to speak) and did
everything right to prey upon the Storm's weaknesses while
amplifying their own strengths.
Storm could not stop the Mercury at all and even knowing how
the Merc were going to play were not able to adjust. They
were left reacting and chasing the Mercury instead of controlling
pretty much it. There were, of course, flashes of strong play
from the Storm both on offense and defense, but none of it
was consistent enough to match what the Mercury put on the
Storm had to know that the Mercury would be throwing zone
defenses at them. Sure enough, Phoenix settled into one on
the first play and, I think, stayed in it all night. The Storm
appeared to have a couple new plays — I say "appeared"
because Sue was using new hand signals and had to direct traffic
a couple of times when players were out of position — but
they had little effect. Our perimeter shooting wasn't strong
enough to force the Mercury out of the zone and the Storm's
inside game was nearly nonexistent.
That fact — no inside game — was both unsurprising
and hard to believe at the same time. Of course, LJ was going
to be a major focus for the Mercury. They were on full-time
double team and were all over her like a second uniform. Not
surprising. But here's the hard to believe part: they did it
with guards and small forwards. That's right, Taurasi was the
primary defender on LJ with help from Taylor, Snell, Mazzante
a couple of times and even Miller. Sure, it looked like DT was
hugging LJ half the game, but so what? Throw the ball up where
only LJ can get it. We know she can corral the basketball as
long as it is in reach.
telling stat from all of that was that Wendy Palmer had as
many shots as LJ. Nothing against Wendy — she's the
one shining point of light off the bench with 9 points and
7 boards (including 4 offensive rebounds) — but if she's
getting as many shots as LJ the Storm will lose every time.
the same time that the Storm were struggling from inside,
the Mercury were lighting it up from inside and outside. And,
most importantly, they were doing it fast. It didn't matter
if they were coming down the court after a Storm turnover
or made basket. Every possession started out feeling like
a Mercury fast break. This was the first game when Izi's speed
didn't feel like an advantage. Miller and Pondexter did an
Izi every other play.
made the Storm pay on every mistake whether it was a turnover
or missed defensive assignment. How Taurasi, Mazzante, Smith
or Pondexter could possibly get so consistently open for three
point shots is dumbfounding. You have to credit them —
they executed their offense perfectly and when they got open,
they hit their shots.
is there really left to say? They executed. The Storm didn't.
Was this our last Storm game ever? I hope not. I hope the team
can make adjustments and force Phoenix to react instead of dictate.
I hope LJ finds a way to drop a couple 40-point games on them.
I hope they pull off the upset and pull a Houston on Phoenix,
winning games 2 and 3 after losing at home. I hope.
this was the last Storm game, all I can say is I didn't want
it to end this way.