Insider Preview: Storm vs. Minnesota (Game 2)
Kevin Pelton, StormBasketball.com
As the Seattle Storm arrived back at Royal Brougham Pavilion on the Seattle Pacific University campus for Saturday's practice, the focus was on adjustments between Friday's 78-70 loss at Minnesota and Sunday's must-win Game 2 against the Lynx at KeyArena.
"I think both teams will probably make some adjustments," said Storm Head Coach Brian Agler. "I think both teams left that game saying they can do certain things better. I can't tell you it will be a different kind of game but I envision both teams doing things differently."
"I think we can learn a lot from last night's game," added point guard Sue Bird. "I think the good thing is we did a pretty good job of executing our game plan, but there are a couple of areas we can probably adjust and learn from and hopefully put on an even better performance. "
While Agler feels the Storm can do better at both ends of the floor, the focus may primarily be on the team's offense. The Storm held Minnesota 8.2 points per 100 possessions below its league-leading Offensive Rating from the regular season. The team also had atypical advantages in fast-break points and second-chance points. When forced into the half-court offense, however, the Storm struggled, shooting just 39.7 percent from the field and 7 of 24 from beyond the arc.
In the early going, the Storm got a lift from Lauren Jackson. She scored 11 points in the first half, but was limited to just one after halftime as the Lynx took away easy opportunities in the paint.
"I envision them doing the same type of thing," Agler said. "I don't know if they'll do it the same kind of way, but I envision them really crowding the lane and putting some pressure on her. We did some good things with that last night and we'll try to improve on that as well."
Jackson, who is still somewhat limited by a strained left hamstring, played a season-high 27 minutes during Game 1. Agler anticipates her being somewhere between 25 and 30 minutes on Sunday. Many of those will continue to come alongside Ann Wauters in a bigger frontcourt that goes 6-4 and 6-6. Agler likes the chemistry between the two players, who teamed up to win a EuroLeague title for Ros Casares last offseason.
Another interesting matchup came at point guard, where Minnesota cross-matched and used the bigger 6-0 Seimone Augustus to defend the 5-9 Bird.
"I feel you could ask any player. When somebody taller is on them, it makes things a little bit more difficult," said Bird. "I've been seeing that a lot in the last couple of weeks where people put their two on me. It changes some things."
It was an off night for Bird, who committed five turnovers and was limited to 3-of-8 shooting. Bird finished the game on the bench when the Storm made a quick run with her resting, but plus-minus statistics still confirm her importance. The Storm played the Lynx nearly even (-2) with Bird on the floor. Minnesota held a six-point advantage during the 12 minutes Bird sat out.
Adjustments could help Bird make a bigger impact on the stat sheet.
"They've done that the last couple of times we've played," noted Agler. "We have the ability to put Sue in different spots, so we'll take a look at that and see where we feel like it can benefit us."
"The same way I'm not used to guarding twos and threes, I don't think they're used to defending point guards," added Bird. "Whether that's an advantage or a disadvantage I'm not sure."
For all the video, for all the Xs and Os, Game 2 could be determined by the Storm matching the aggressiveness with which Minnesota played during the second half on Friday night. Playing at home figures to make a difference in terms of energy level.
"Their crowd did a great job," Bird said. "They were loud. I know our crowd will be even louder. It helps because it gives you that emotional boost that sometimes you need."
|One of the Storm's key advantages in Game 1 was the play of the bench, which helped keep the team in the game. In her playoff debut, rookie Shekinna Stricklen (left) led the Storm with 13 points and seven rebounds. Stricklen's aggressive play changes the temp of the Storm offense. Tina Thompson also grabbed seven rebounds and scored nine points, while Wauters scored four points. By contrast, guard Candice Wiggins (right) was the only Lynx reserve to see more than 10 minutes of action. Talented guard Monica Wright, who was a big factor with 15 points the last time Minnesota visited KeyArena, has been up and down since the Olympic Break and saw only limited playing time.|
Storm - None.
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