WNBA Finals, Game 2
score: Storm 87 Dream 84 (W) (2-0)
Score | Jayda's
Game Blog | Live
from Press Row
E | Rick
L | Neil
honestly wasn't expecting another tight game like this. I
thought that the Storm would make the adjustments necessary
to give themselves the edge they would need to take control
of the game. You just have to look back at how the Storm not
only handled the Sparks and the Mercury in the first and second
rounds of the playoffs, but also back over the whole season
as they found ways to continually beat teams. Phoenix head
coach Corey Gaines was mostly right — it is extremely
difficult to beat a team multiple times in one season, but
the Storm under Coach Agler's direction have been able to
way they have done it has been to focus on what their own
strengths and limit their opponents' strengths. For example,
beating Phoenix took controlling the boards and stopping the
Mercury running game before it got started. Take away their
fast breaks and you can beat them.
Storm have beaten the Dream four times now this season, but
I don't get the sense that the Storm are doing it by making
any real adjustments. They are surviving these games —
outlasting the Dream. Tonight the Dream could have used a
41 minute game and they might have won.
to what I expected to happen: I honestly thought the Storm
would win with a comfortable margin, double digits for sure
and by at least 15. I thought that if the Storm could build
a lead by executing on offense like we know they can and then
getting defensive stops in bunches, they could build a lead
and protect it. My hope was that if the Storm could push the
lead past about the 12 point area, the Dream might lay back
just a bit, knowing that they have two games at home ahead
of them. Put them on their heels, get them down and thinking
more about Game 3 than Game 2 and then turn on the gas.
game plan, except the Dream had winning Game 2 firmly in mind
and the Storm seemed to want to help them.
much as I dislike playing against teams without their star
players — if you are going to beat someone, I'd rather
do it at full strength with no excuses or asterisks due to
missing All-Stars — it seemed during the pregame warmups
we might be doing just that. No McCoughtry on the floor. She
finally came out when she, Sue and LJ were introduced as being
named to the WNBA First and Second Teams. She walked back
to the bench instead of joining in with the shoot-around and
I thought that even though she was suited up, she might be
sitting out. Nope. She started. I'm not sure why if she was
good to go for the game she didn't warm up — I took
it as a sign she was still feeling the effects of Veselá's
teeth in her temple.
with a potentially less than 100% McCoughtry and a KeyArena
crowd that was rocking from the get-go, the Storm came out
really flat. Swin, as I think we all expected, was very active
and looking to score the ball. The rest of the Storm seemed
tentative on both ends of the court. They were especially
porous on defense, allowing Izi and Angel to penetrate the
lane with some ease and score uncontested layups.
Storm's only scoring early on came from free throws, Swin
hitting a couple followed by LJ hitting a couple. After a
timeout after going down 7-2, the Storm put together their
first mini-run. They started going in to LJ as soon as the
Dream did any kind of switch on defense and LJ found herself
defended by Dream guards or small forwards.
Dream really can't guard LJ. Every time she got the ball in
the low post, throughout the game, she either scored or got
fouled. Every time. And when the Dream started focusing their
double or triple teams on her, the Storm would find Camille
or Le'coe on the other side. The only problem with that was
the Dream bigs tower over the Storm's undersized forwards.
Camille and Le'coe, along with Swin on occasion, had to really
work to get around DeSouza, Lyttle and Leuchanka.
as the Storm started to get things going with LJ and took
the lead, they kept finding ways to give the ball back to
the Dream. The Dream were getting offensive rebounds like
they were doing a tip drill. When the Storm were able to get
their hands on the ball and maybe get a defensive rebound,
a Dream player would punch the ball away or intercept a pass
and get it right back. Too many times, a Storm rebound turned
back into a Dream possession.
least the Storm were getting to the free throw line. The first
quarter turned into a real foul fest and the Storm, mainly
LJ, were able to put points on the scoreboard. However, as
the game wore on, the Storm weren't able to keep this up either.
They ended up missing 10 of their 37 attempts, and as we'll
see when we get there in the fourth it almost cost them the
Storm used their free throws and their interior play to erase
a Dream 6 point lead and get it down to 2 by the end of the
one-on-one battle that looked the nastiest was Swin versus
Angel. The two of them were really going at each other on
both ends of the court. For the most part, they balanced each
other's scoring. But the advantage had to go to Swin, with
help from her friends. She and the Storm shut down McCoughtry
much more effectively than Angel shut down Swin. Very few
of Angel's shots were open or uncontested. She even had a
couple airballs in there. She was of course complaining to
the refs non-stop, but instead of knocking out two players
with fouls like they did in Game 1, the refs let this part
of the game go.
Storm started the second quarter with part of the bench in
and were able to get some decent energy out of them while
Sue and LJ sat out for a few minutes. The Storm actually put
together another little spurt of energy on defense, keeping
the Dream to one shot attempt, while scoring on their own
offense. Veselá got a running layup to go in, Tanisha
drove the lane from outside the three point line and made
it to the basket almost untouched (kind of what Izi and Angel
tend to do whenever they get a head of steam), and then Swin
took Angel one-on-one with some fancy shake and bake moves
to hit a mid-range jumper.
it felt like the Storm were ready to break the game open by
executing on offense while getting defensive stops in bunches.
The Dream got a whiff of that and called a timeout. The Storm
came back with a Swin drive, basket and a foul building the
lead to 6 points.
swear that as this game progressed I started to wonder if
the league hadn't passed down a new rule that the Storm weren't
allowed to get any farther than 6 points ahead of the Dream.
It was some sort of magic number. As soon as the Storm got
to that lead, they would commit a foul, turn the ball over,
get a shot clock violation or find some way to let the Dream
come down and hit quick scores. You really have to give the
Dream a lot of credit. Their game plan was obviously to keep
the Storm within reach by responding to any runs with harder
defense and super quick offense. Silence the crowd and chip
away at the Storm's confidence by frustrating them and not
allowing them to feel like they have any control over the
second quarter was agonizing. The Storm slowly added a point
here, a point there, until they got past that 6 point barrier
a little. The Storm are keeping McCoughtry under control,
for the most part, and continued to use the LJ inside game
and free throws to grow their lead. Once they got it past
6 and pushed it to 8, of course Izi came right back with a
three and then the Storm turn it over.
was a short period where neither team could keep their hands
on the ball. Back and forth up and down the court, steal,
bobbled pass, steal, steal. Sue finally got the ball and came
down for a three attempt. She got clearly fouled by one of
the Millers, but there was no call. As soon as the Dream got
the ball and started running back, Sue stepped in front of
the Miller and got her called for a charge. To me, it was
clearly a make-up call for the missed three point foul. Miller
was going crazy and Sue just shrugged her shoulders as if
to say that's what you get. I'd rather the refs get the calls
correct the first time. Dee Kantner was at the game, so hopefully
something will come of that, but I doubt it.
the second quarter was winding down and the Storm were up
by 8 still. All the sudden, turnovers and bad defense allowed
the Dream to wipe that lead out. Another halftime buzzer beating
three from the Dream, this time is was McCoughtry, chopped
the lead down to two and left the crowd stunned.
I could think of during halftime was that if the Storm could
just get a few stops, hold the Dream from those crazy open
jumpers and super fast scores. We've seen them impose their
will on other teams. We've seen them get into their aggressive
switching scheme, disrupting passes and forcing the ball handlers
to get rid of the ball early in a shot clock — basically
turning on the power defense and taking the other team completely
out of their game. They can do this. They have done it. Coming
out of the half was the time for it to happen. Execute on
offense — the knew what worked — and disrupt on
enough, that is exactly what the Storm did to start the third
quarter. They got the ball into LJ and got stops on defense.
They again built an 8 point lead and it felt like finally,
FINALLY, they were on the verge of taking control.
Miller hits a jumper. Camille misses and the Dream get the
rebound. Miller misses and the Storm rebound, but then Swin
gets a three second violation under the basket. The Storm
come back well on defense and break up the Dream's play, but
the Dream still find a way to score as the Storm bobble the
ball away. Back on the other end, the Storm have a horrible
set and get a shot clock violation. A DeSouza jumper followed
by a Angel fastbreak and foul (Camille totally got ALL BALL
damn it) and the Dream tie the game at 55.
crying out loud.
Dream take the lead on a drive by Izi, capping off a 10-0
run just as the Storm had looked like they were going to break
the game open. Any other game in the season, that 10-0 run
would have been the Storm slamming the door on the other team.
Against the Dream, there is no door slamming. There are no
dagger blows. There is no game control. They resist all of
that. They don't let any of it get to them because they know
that they are always one or two scores away from taking it
all right back. They have this ability to turn the tables
on you just when you think everything is going your way.
this doom and gloom shouldn't be taken to say that the Storm
were playing particularly badly. They were still controlling
McCoughtry for the most part. She and Izi both were having
bad shooting nights, due very much to Seattle's defense. Seattle
wasn't playing very well consistently on offense, but they
kept finding ways to get the lead back and find that 6 point
barrier. As much as the Dream were answering the Storm's effort,
they HAD to keep answering because the Storm were being just
all the Dream's effort in the third quarter, the Storm was
still able to finish the quarter up by 4, outscoring the Dream
by 2 for the quarter.
fourth quarter started and the crowd stood as we always do...
and stayed standing. We were trying to will the Storm forward,
trying to push the over the hump and onto the win. I actually
didn't even try to take any notes for the first half of the
quarter because I was too busy screaming my head off.
Storm were up by 6 with about 6 minutes left. They were looking
energized. The crowd was rocking and waiting to erupt at every
Storm score, rebound or steal. The Dream again took an effective
timeout, probably sensing once more that the Storm were on
the verge of opening up the game.
back from the timeout, the Storm got away with an over and
back on their possession. The ball got tapped out of Tanisha's
hands (I think it was T), but it pretty clearly went off of
her last. She even thought so and almost let the ball roll
down the court but finally went and got it. She hesitated,
anticipating the whistle. It didn't come so she went back
up court. The Dream bench was going crazy. Unfortunately,
and probably due to a little basketball justice, the Storm
weren't able to capitalize on the continued possession and
they were up by 6 and were getting stops on defense, limiting
the Dream to single shots. But then, just as they had done
the rest of the game, and through Game 1, the Storm killed
their momentum with turnovers. They had another horrible set
that ended in a shot clock violation because the Storm were
overpassing the ball, trying to find the next open shooter
even though they were passing on open shots. Coach Agler may
have aged a few years on that play alone.
just three minutes left, the Storm were still only up by 6.
the clock wound down, the Storm were getting foul calls and
trips to the foul line, but inexplicably missing their free
throws. Between Camille, Tanisha and even LJ, the Storm missed
5 free throws between the three minute mark leading up to
about half a minute left in the game.
miss gave the Dream more life. Even making 3 of those would
have pushed the score out just enough to get it out of reach.
But no. The Dream had a chance and they took that chance.
start hitting shots so fast, you could turn your head and
miss it. I swear they were scoring in 2 or 3 seconds. They
started fouling, and easy decision since the Storm weren't
hitting, and used quick shots to slowly whittle down the lead.
was finally fouled with 22.9 left on the clock and actually
hit both free throws. I think everyone, except for the Dream
that is, figured a 6 point lead with 22 seconds left ought
to be enough. Ummm, no.
comes right back and scores. Lead down to 4. Another foul
to stop the clock and Swin goes to the line. She missed both
— BOTH — but because the Dream were out of timeouts,
they had to go full court and just ran out of time, finally.
the Dream had started their fouling routine a little earlier,
they might have been able to win the game. They missed by
about another 20-30 seconds.
ending was not satisfying at all. Yes, the Storm are now up
2-0 and only have to win one more game to take the Championship,
but the way this game ended could only give the Dream more
hope. They have to be thinking that they have every chance
to win not one but both of the games on their home court.
They aren't going to be focusing on the fact that they gave
it everything they had and still came up a couple points short
again, they are going to be focusing on the fact that they
were getting what they wanted at the end and ran out of time.
The Storm didn't "beat" them, they ran out of time.
I don't see them down or looking deflated. They need to win
3 in a row, but I don't see any indication that their confidence
has eroded at all.
Storm are going to have a tough road. I do think they can
win in Atlanta. I think they can win Game 3, and if not then
Game 4. I honestly don't see a Game 5. The Storm are too good
and too focused, but they have to find a way to translate
that into execution on the court.
hope is that being on the road will focus them. They haven't
played their style of game yet in this series. If they do
that, it's over. Game 3 is going to be the hardest one yet.
more thing in the Storm's favor: us. The Dream had a few fans
in Seattle. I saw maybe 5 behind the Dream bench during Game
1 and fewer for Game 2. We are going to have maybe 70 for
Game 3 and we're all sitting behind the Storm bench. The Dream
fans in Seattle barely made a peep. We will be roaring every
time it is quiet. The Dream fans will be getting some instruction
on what it means to be visiting fans. One of the Dream fans
here in Seattle joined our little post-game conversation group
and said that the fans in Seattle were worth about 5 points
a game. I'd push that total up a bit, but okay. Here's the
thing — I think we're going to be worth a lot more than
that in Atlanta. I'm not going to be happy unless we keep
the Dream down to about 50% on their free throws. I'm serious.
If I have a voice left after Game 3, I will have failed.
get ready. The Storm invasion is on its way.
famous folks at the game, starting with Semeka Randall and
Jaime Redd. There were also several Seahawks there, but I
didn't catch their names and didn't recognize any of them.
Honestly, if it wasn't Hasselbeck I wouldn't have recognized
gave away a dozen Top Pot doughnuts for the best sign at the
game. I love that. I've always wanted to do something for
the best sign of the game. The winner was the "Even Chuck
Norris is afraid of LJ" sign. Great — I love
have to admit that I'm done with the Stanky Leg thing. It
was funny at the beginning, but it's kind of been run into
the ground a bit. Same thing with the wave. It was cool that
first time because it was spontaneous, but it feels forced.
things go according to plan, this was our last home game of
the season. If so, 21-0. We. Are. Home. Court. Advantage.
I love you guys.