Storm Knows Winning in Atlanta Won't Be Easy
Kevin Pelton, stormbasketball.com | Sept. 15, 2010
The first two games of the WNBA Finals have been anything but easy for the Seattle Storm, which pulled out a two-point victory over the Atlanta Dream in Game 1 and a three-point victory in Game 2 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series. Now, the challenge only increases as the Storm heads to Atlanta for Game 3 on Thursday (5:00 p.m., ESPN2, 1150 AM KKNW) and, if necessary, Game 4.
"At this point in time I don't feel overly confident in going to Atlanta," said Storm forward Lauren Jackson. "I think that home court advantage plays a big part in the series and going back to Atlanta it will be difficult for us to get the win. So I think we're going to have to keep doing what we do, play defense, better defense all game, and then try and get the win down there."
Jackson lamented the fact that the Storm can't bring the 13,000-plus fans who packed KeyArena for the first two games of this series to Atlanta. Storm fans will have a presence at Philips Arena on Thursday, but nothing like the raucous atmosphere that has carried the Storm to a perfect 21-0 record at home this season.
Still, the Storm has enjoyed its share of success away from Seattle, including road wins in Game 2 against Los Angeles and Phoenix during the opening two rounds of the postseason.
"(Head Coach) Brian (Agler) made a good point," Sue Bird said after Tuesday's game. "Everyone likes to talk about our home record, and we had an amazing season at home. We’re also the best team on the road in the league. So a lot of that speaks to our age, being around, knowing that you’ve got to block it all out."
Heading home, the Dream will be able to draw upon its strong performances in Seattle. Atlanta had a chance to win Game 1 with Angel McCoughtry's three-pointer at the buzzer, then battled back to have the opportunity to tie Game 2 in the closing seconds. If there was any question that the Dream could play with the Storm, that has quickly been answered.
"We got confidence going home that we can win," said guard Iziane Castro Marques, "so we think we can have the win at home with offense and the advantage for us. We're just focusing on winning the third game; of course it's crucial for us, but we're confident we can do at home. Just have a few things to adjust and the game could go either way."
Atlanta was rarely bothered by a KeyArena crowd that rattled opponents throughout the season. Now, Dream Head Coach Marynell Meadors expects that the Storm will have to deal with a large turnout at Philips Arena.
"We've got tickets selling like crazy," said Meadors. "I think there will be well over 12, 13,000, at least that many."
By holding serve at home, the Storm has moved within one win of the WNBA championship. However, that doesn't change the team's mindset whatsoever.
"We're going into Thursday and saying we want to win Thursday's game," explained Swin Cash. "That's the next game. That's been our focus throughout the whole season, the next game. If we're able to get the win, then we've accomplished our goal. But we've put ourselves in a great position that if we don't win Thursday, we've got two more shots at it."
WATCH GAME 3
The Storm is encouraging fans to gather and watch Game 3. Storm viewing parties will be held at various locations around the Seattle Center Campus, including a family-friendly gathering at the Center House. For a complete list of all Storm viewing party locations, check out the Playoff Hype page.
"The fans are the backbone of the Storm organization and while the team is playing in Atlanta, we know they’re cheering them on from home," Storm CEO Karen Bryant said in a release. "The amount of support shown by the fans and the city of Seattle is truly inspirational and we look forward to celebrating the team’s success when they return."
Should the Storm play in a noon WNBA Finals Game 4 on Sunday, Sept 19, a viewing party will be held at KeyArena – stay tuned for details.