Insider Preview: Storm vs. San Antonio

14-18 RECORD 20-12
1-4 LAST 5 3-2
70.8 PF 81.8
96.1 Off. Eff. 107.2
72.0 PA 76.5
97.6 Def. Eff. 100.4
31.5 RPG 35.2
.462 Reb % .487
73.5 Pace 75.7
14.8 Exp. Wins 21.5

Storm vs. San Antonio
Friday, Sept. 21, 7:00 p.m.
Radio: 1090 AM
LiveAccess: Available with subscription
Buy Tickets:
Promotion: Fan Appreciation Night. #StormCrazies T-shirts for the first 3,000 fans plus more giveaways during the game.

Kevin Pelton,

With the Los Angeles Sparks' win over Phoenix on Tuesday, the Western Conference playoff picture was complete. The Seattle Storm already knew it would face the Minnesota Lynx in the opening round, pitting the Sparks against the San Antonio Silver Stars. That left just one piece - home-court advantage between L.A. and San Antonio - unresolved. With their win, the Sparks clinched the No. 2 seed and the chance to host Game 3 should their series against the Silver Stars go the distance.

Different teams will approach the final weekend of the regular season in different fashions. For the Storm, which played without three starters at times during the last week due to minor injuries, tonight's home finale and Sunday's last game of the regular season at Phoenix will be important opportunities to build chemistry among a group of 11 players that has suited up together just five times all season to date.

San Antonio might use this opportunity to get more rest before the playoffs. The Silver Stars will be at a bit of a disadvantage in Game 1 of their series. While San Antonio plays tonight and finishes the schedule at home on Sunday against Minnesota, Los Angeles has already wrapped up its schedule. The Sparks will have a full week off to spend at home preparing for Game 1.

At the same time, the Silver Stars are like the Storm in their desire to build some momentum going into the postseason.

"Playing good basketball this last week is important to us this year," San Antonio Head Coach Dan Hughes said after Tuesday's win over New York. "We want to get that taste of what playoff basketball is really like."

While the Silver Stars have posted their best record since 2008, when they reached the WNBA Finals, their best basketball was played before the Olympic Break. After losing during its last visit to KeyArena on June 22, San Antonio won all nine games before the league took a month off. After Becky Hammon returned from representing Russia in London, the Silver Stars extended their streak to 12 by beating three lottery-bound teams.

Since then, San Antonio has been up and down, going 4-7. Many of those losses are attributable to a difficult schedule, but the Silver Stars also lost at Phoenix with Diana Taurasi in the lineup and fell at home last Sunday to a feisty Tulsa squad.

San Antonio is dangerous when the team is hitting from the perimeter and holding its own on the glass. The Silver Stars accomplished both keys to pull away from the short-handed Storm in the second half of their meeting a week ago at the AT&T Center. San Antonio can also feel good about the way it matches up with Los Angeles. The Silver Stars have won three of the four head-to-head matchup between the teams, including a 20-point win at the Staples Center, though the last game was a Sparks blowout win.

As for tonight, all we know is that the Silver Stars will be without reserve guard Jia Perkins. The veteran, who is fourth in the team in scoring, did not travel to Seattle due to illness.

The Storm hopes to be close to full strength with Lauren Jackson expected to return after a three-game absence due to a strained left hamstring. Reserve wing Svetlana Abrosimova remains day-to-day due to a sprained left wrist suffered during Tuesday's win over Chicago.

In addition to the action on the floor, tonight is Fan Appreciation Night as the Storm wraps up its home schedule for the regular season. The first 3,000 fans through the doors will get free #StormCrazies T-shirts, and there will be special features and giveaways throughout the game.

Because she missed last Friday's game, Jackson is facing the Silver Stars for the first time this season. In the past, this has been a favorable matchup for Jackson, who has a quickness advantage against San Antonio counterpart Jayne Appel. Jackson should be able to get open perimeter looks against Appel, who prefers to play in the paint, and could find driving looks. Jackson shot the ball well during a post-practice scrimmage on Friday and said afterward her shot felt better because she is no longer playing in pain. IF Jackson scores eight points, she'll become the second Storm player to reach a major milestone this week, becoming the fourth player to reach 6,000 career points. Jackson's primary task at the other end will be keeping Appel off the glass. During September, the former Stanford star is averaging 8.5 rebounds per game.

With Sue Bird (hip) and Jackson (strained hamstring) both out of the lineup, the healthy Storm players fought gamely but could not compete with San Antonio in a 90-66 loss Friday night at the AT&T Center. Playing the finale of a four-game road trip, the Storm took a 25-20 lead after one quarter behind hot shooting. The Silver Stars regained the lead by halftime, but the advantage was just two points. San Antonio opened things up in the third quarter and poured it on during the final period.

Making her first start since June 30, Ann Wauters had 12 points and nine rebounds for the Storm. Tina Thompson also scored 12 off the bench, bringing her within 14 of becoming the first player in WNBA history with 7,000 career points. Svetlana Abrosimova (11) and Shekinna Stricklen (10) also scored double figures for the Storm. Hammon scored 25 and Sophia Young 19 for the Silver Stars. The Storm struggled again with turnovers, committing 21 in total.


Storm - Center Lauren Jackson (strained left hamstring) is probable. Forward Svetlana Abrosimova (strained left hamstring) is questionable.

San Antonio - Guard Jia Perkins (illness) is out.

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