WNBA Finals, Game 1
score: Storm 79 Dream 77 (W) (1-0)
Score | Jayda's
Game Blog | Live
from Press Row
E | Rick
L | Neil
think from now on, there should be a person designated in
each row to keep one of those portable defibrillator units
charged and ready to assembly-line-jumpstart the hearts of
the other fans in that row because the Storm are starting
to specialize in heart attack-inducing finishes.
Bird can miss every shot she takes through a game, but somehow
can just dribble up, find a slightly open spot and knock down
a game winning jumper like she is playing a game of horse.
The only thing she did "wrong" was leave time on
the clock for the Dream to get off an attempt on the other
end. Good Lord that woman has liquid nitrogen coursing through
her veins. It's got to be, for fans of other teams, the way
we all feel about players like Taurasi – you see her
coming down the court and you know exactly what she's going
to do, you know your team knows exactly what she's going to
do and that they are powerless to stop it, and then she just
does it and hits the gigantic shot. Sue is that unstoppable
player for the Storm, when she decides it's necessary. Unlike
Taurasi, Sue isn't looking for that big shot all the time.
She prefers to have single digits on the game clock.
I'd rather she not have to do that and it looked, for a time
in the first quarter, that there wouldn't be a need for a
Sue Bird daisy cutter for the win this time.
was a great vibe and energy in the crowd before the game.
People were so jazzed about this game that they actually cheered
when the arena announcer gave the date and time for Game 2.
There were signs everywhere and the Bring It rally towels
were flying often. Storm fans were definitely feeling good
about this game. For myself, I was too, but I had serious
concerns about Atlanta.
we beat them twice during the regular season, but so what?
They are just as scary as Phoenix when it comes to being lightning
fast, able to hit threes in bunches and generally run you
ragged if they feel like it. And oh yeah, they have Angel.
She's already got that Taurasi-like feel to her game — she's
a superstar, deserves the call every time and can shoot the
ball from anywhere on the court. If having her and Izi on
the court at the same time doesn't strike a little fear in
your heart, you've not been paying attention to what the Dream
are capable of.
hard to not appreciate the Dream, although I'll admit to being
a little irritated by them. Not for anything they've done,
I just don't think they've "earned" the success
yet. The Storm had to be doormats for a long time before they
got a shot at the title. The Dream got here a little too quick.
They certainly are good enough, don't get me wrong, but I
would have liked them to suffer a little more, pay a few more
dues before getting to the big time. Hopefully, the Storm
can put a little stamp on their progress.
first quarter certainly felt like the Storm were going to
stamp something all over the Dream. Once they got past their
first couple of possessions, the Storm got in the driver's
seat and put their foot on the gas. They were scoring from
outside and inside. LJ, Sue, Camille and Swin all got baskets.
It looked and felt like one of those games where the Storm
are coming at the other team from all angles, not allowing
them to zero in on any one player or even really get set on
Storm were controlling the boards and forcing Atlanta into
single shot attempts. On the other end, the Storm were hitting
their shots or getting offensive rebounds, nullifying the
Dream's ability to take advantage of their speed on fastbreaks.
It was a good game plan... until the Storm stopped being as
aggressive on boxing out and started to turn over the ball.
only took a couple mental lapses towards the end of the quarter
for the Dream to take advantage and cut the Storm's 11 point
lead down to a couple of possessions. Part of what slowed
the Storm was Swin getting into very early foul trouble. She
got three quick fouls and was pulled from the game before
the mid-point of the quarter. Since she was playing McCoughtry,
her absence allowed the Dream to dictate much more on offense.
only silver-ish lining was that McCoughtry turned around and
got herself in to the same kind of foul trouble right as the
quarter ended. Sue took a shot and missed. ARob went for the
rebound, got it and was fouled by McCoughtry. She got her
third and the scoreboard, at least, indicated it was the Dream's
fifth team foul. It was either wrong or the refs, surprise
surprise, weren't paying attention and didn't allow ARob to
shoot free throws. Angel was out, but the Storm missed on
the following shot and the quarter was over.
second quarter started with Sue and four bench players in
the game. I could be wrong, but I'm not sure we've seen that
line-up in the playoffs so far unless the game was basically
over. ARob, Veselá, Svet, Le'coe and Sue on the court
and getting plenty of court time. I chalked it up to match-ups
— Coach Agler isn't shy about altering his rotation
to better match up with the opponent and the Dream are a tall
team. The good news for us was that the bench did a decent
job. They didn't do a great job, but decent.
was very active and was really fighting for rebounds. All
of them were in their scrapping away and they forced Atlanta
into a shot clock violation right out of the gate. Still,
the Dream were playing their starters and they continued to
chip away at the lead. Shortly after LJ and Swin came back
in, the Dream were able to tie the score and then take the
lead. Nerves started getting rattled, I can tell you.
the score was tied, it really stayed close the rest of the
game. The Storm would pull away a bit and then the Dream would
reel them back in. The Storm would clamp down on defense and
force a turnover, convert it and even get a foul. The crowd
would go crazy and it would feel like the Storm were taking
control — until the Dream would fly down the court and
get an Izi jumper or Price layup. Back and forth. Defib units
did her best to quiet the crowd to end the second quarter.
She came sprinting down the court and let one of those super
high rainbow shots go that hit for a buzzer-beating three.
I love Izi, but damn that was a killer shot. The air went
out of the crowd and you could see some doubt start to creep
in. I was concerned, big time, but was almost wishing that
the Dream had taken the lead and held it to end the half.
The Storm are better in the second half when they are coming
from behind rather than trying to hold onto a lead. I think
they play with a lot more purpose and snap when they are behind
and they've certainly shown that they can come back and beat
teams. With Atlanta, I'm nervous that a single digit lead
won't be enough. They can pop off with a couple threes in
no time — just like the half-ending shot Izi made —
for a single digit lead to feel secure.
typed all of that into my iPad during the half. Little did
second half started with Sue missing three straight shots.
LJ, on the other hand, started going to town. She put on a
bit of a show through the third quarter. She was cutting to
the basket for layups and short jumpers. She was floating
outside and getting threes. McCoughtry was answering for awhile,
but the Storm put on a late quarter push to kick out a 6 point
lead and looked like they were getting ready to put the game
Storm were able to build a 9 point lead through the first
few minutes of the fourth quarter, even after the momentum
killing collision between McCoughtry and Veselá. It
was just about a minute into the quarter and Angel had the
ball, guarded by Jana. Angel made a little feint move that
got Veselá to hesitate and then McCoughtry went up
and into Jana, trying to draw a foul on a jump shot.
looked totally like McCoughtry jumped into Veselá who
was pretty violently knocked back. It was clear that they
cracked heads, but it wasn't until the replay (and seeing
it on the TiVo'd game later) that it was clear that McCoughtry
had slammed her forehead into Jana's mouth. Both players went
down and were in pretty obvious pain. Jana was able to get
up first and made it over to the bench. McCoughtry tried to
get up a couple times, but was wisely kept down by her teammates
who had to be concerned about a possible concussion. The wound
had already started to bleed and look swollen even before
the Dream training staff got over to her. She eventually got
up and walked on her own over to their bench, although she
looked pretty shaky. I was fairly certain that she wouldn't
be back the rest of the game. She did come out and shoot the
free throws, hitting both, but she looked done.
that, the Storm went on a mini 9-2 run to push the score up
to the 9 points I talked about above. They were rolling again.
The crowd was roaring and, with no McCoughtry, it seemed like
we were heading confidently to Game 2... except for that little
thing about playing with a lead. The Storm don't like it much
I think. Swin turned the ball over and then got another foul
and out she went. Tanisha turned it over on the next possession
while the Dream started hitting shots and getting offensive
rebounds. A minute or so later our 9 point cushion is back
to a nerve-rattling 3 point nailbiter.
Back and forth. A string of missed shots and missed rebounds.
The score vacillates between 3 and 5 — too close and
just enough. Too close and just enough. Back up to 6 with
just a couple minutes left. At some point, people quit sitting
back down and just stayed up, even when the Dream got a shot
or put back to quiet us down.
the Dream go on a mini-run of their own — 8 to 2 —
to erase the Storm's lead and tie the damn game with a minute
to go. For crying out loud.
teams had a missed shot and with 20.4 seconds on the clock,
LJ got a rebound off of a McCoughtry shot (oh yeah, she came
back into the game — taped up the head and they put
her back in). The Storm call timeout.
we go. The Dream know what the Storm are going to do. We all
know what the Storm are going to do. Sue has the ball, dribbling,
dribbling, waiting for LJ to come up and set the screen. Single
digits on the clock. She starts to move forward, not rushed,
not slow, just forward. LJ sets the screen and Sue goes to
her left a step. The defender doesn't stick with her tightly
enough and Sue gets a couple feet of space. And just like
she had hit ten in a row, she puts the ball in the air and
through the basket. Easy, peasy. 2.6 seconds left on the clock.
Just another day at the office I guess.
I said at the top of this Gameday, the only thing Ms. Ice
For Blood did "wrong" was leave time on the clock.
The Dream had a final shot attempt and actually got a good
look. McCoughtry took it, naturally, and it rimmed off. She
shot a three, interestingly, going for the win and not the
tie. I actually think Izi would have been a better option
there and not only because Angel might have still been cobwebby
in the cabeza. Izi had hit a few long range bombs through
the game and was in much better rhythm overall. Angel missed.
Sue didn't and we're up 1-0.
lest anyone forget, the Storm are now 20-0 for the season
2, here we come.
of famous faces in the crowd tonight including Bill Russell,
Downtown Freddie Brown, Lenny Wilkins, Nate Robinson, Jeff
Green, Jamal Crawford, Tia Jackson, Loree Moore and Alexis
Hornbuckle. Oh yeah, and David Locke was sitting courtside
with Karen Bryant. I didn't see him until after the game and
I would have liked to have said hello. Also, one of these
days, I'll get the nerve up to approach Bill Russell and shake
his hand. If there was ever a Wayne and Garth "we're
not worthy" moment, it will be when and if I ever get
to meet that man.
noticed it on the rolling ad space on the scorers' table first
and then on the players' jerseys — the BBVA logo. No
freakin' clue what it stood for and I'm not sure I like the
NASCARification of the WNBA jerseys. I'm firmly behind the
idea of the primary sponsor getting their logo front and center,
but anyone with enough cash gets to do it too? Hmphf. No sir,
I don't like it.
did the Stanky Legg thing again, along with the fake ref joining
in. Nate Robinson got up and pretty much put on a clinic.
I know they are looking for a fan "winner," but
Nate stole that show.
also joined in to help Doppler try to dunk the ball after
the Dunking Ushers did their halftime routine. Doppler muffed
both attempts. I think big red is off his game.
were lots of Finals themed shirts for sale. We bought several.
Just doing our part.
NBA TV crew was outside the arena before the game interviewing
fans. There was a table set up on the west side with a giant
banner for fans to sign. I think it was going to be put down
where the players could see it.
Svet fan made a banner for her and was having fans sign it.
The banner was in Russian, so I couldn't tell what it said.
Hopefully it was a good message.
talked to one of the "out-of-the-public-eye" members
of the ownership group before the game. I told her that everything
the owners have done this season has been great — from
the excellent fan appreciation night (best ever, and not just
because we won some bobbleheads); the bobbleheads and the
videos with Sue, LJ and Swin; the flag on the Space Needle;
the I am Home Court Advantage t-shirts; the We are Home Court
Advantage ginormo banner. All of it, for me, has helped regain
some of the spirit of what being a founding fan felt like
the first couple of years. Back then, we were important. The
fans mattered and made an obvious difference. As the team
got more successful and bigger, that all faded back somewhat
and things got more impersonal. For me, it's all personal
again. It's okay for the fans to feel a certain sense of ownership
for the team's and organization's success — and that
all starts with the owners. Anyway, I told her all that and
she seemed genuinely grateful to hear it.
game wasn't a complete sell out. There were still a couple
upper bowl sections behind the basket that were curtained
off. I was really hoping that we would sell out all home games
like we did in 2004 (the first WNBA Finals that was completely
sold out in both cities, by the way).