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2010 WNBA Finals, Game 1

Final score: Storm 79 – Dream 77 (W) (1-0)

Attendance | 15084

Box Score | Jayda's Game Blog | Live from Press Row

Game Photos | Scott E | Rick | Scott L | Neil | Toni

I 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.

Sue 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.

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Honestly, 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.

There 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.

Yes, 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.

It's 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.

The 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 defense.

The 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.

It 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.

The 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.

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The 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.

Veselá 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.

Once 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 on stand-by.

Izi 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.

I typed all of that into my iPad during the half. Little did I know...

The 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 away.

The 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.

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It 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.

After 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.

Cripes. 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.

Then 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.

Both 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.

Here 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.

Like 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.

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And, lest anyone forget, the Storm are now 20-0 for the season at home.

Game 2, here we come.

Other notes:

Lots 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.

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I 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.

They 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.

He 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.

There were lots of Finals themed shirts for sale. We bought several. Just doing our part.

An 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.

A 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.

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I 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.

The 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).

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