OK, so we’re not really talking about actual televised games, this is still the WNBA. But on the league’s nifty LiveAccess broadcast on the web, there’s a slate of good games on Friday that all could affect the Storm’s playoff outlook.
Seattle (23-4) is off today, coach Brian Agler trying to rest a veteran team that has played or traveled every other day for the past two weeks. The Storm clinched the No. 1 spot and regular-season Western Conference title in July, so it’s just about time to put it in cruise control to prepare for the postseason, which starts Aug. 25.
Here’s a look at the four games lined up for Friday and how it could play into the Storm’s postseason. All times are PST:
Atlanta (18-10) at Indiana (16-10), 4 p.m.: Is there a way for both teams to lose? Since we know the answer to that, the best bet for Seattle is for Atlanta to drop one to Indiana, which is on a three-game losing streak, 10-4 at home, and just lost to the Dream on Sunday. The worst the Storm could finish is with 11 loses, so it needs the Eastern teams to get to at least 12 to make all other tiebreaker scenarios moot for overall best record. The Storm wants the top spot to assure home-court advantage throughout the playoffs — should the team advance.
Washington (16-10) vs. New York (15-11), 4:30 p.m.: Again, losses are good deals for the Storm. The Mystics are on a three-game losing streak, but the Liberty have won their past four and could really help the Storm with a fifth. It doesn’t even matter if New York miraculously wins the regular-season Eastern Conference title. The Storm swept the Liberty this season and is 7-2 against the West compared to New York’s 5-4 showing out West as of Friday — giving Seattle the edge in tiebreakers, if it came down to that.
San Antonio (10-16) vs. Phoenix (13-13), 7 p.m.: You do not want to play Phoenix in the opening round of the postseason. Repeat. You do not want to play Phoenix in the opening round of the postseason. The Storm, which was swept by the Mercury in the first round in 2007, may have a 4-0 lead on the Mercury in the regular-season series this summer, but think about those games. A blowout, triple overtime, a miracle comeback and one standard win — who knows what you’d get when the ante is increased in the postseason. San Antonio, meanwhile, still hasn’t shown it has a post game that can help beat Seattle. The Silver Stars lost to the Mercury on Tuesday and it would be best for Seattle if it happened, again. Go Mighty Mercury!
Tulsa (5-22) vs. Los Angeles (9-17), 7:30 p.m.: This is a tricky one. Seattle has never defeated Los Angeles in the postseason, losing to the Sparks the past two playoffs in the opening round without star Lauren Jackson. Sans former MVP Candace Parker, the Sparks are 1/2-game behind Minnesota for the fourth and final berth in the West – Seattle’s first-round opponent. The Storm-Lynx games have been decided by a total of six points this season, Seattle getting the edge 2-1 and hosting the final matchup on Aug. 17 at KeyArena. Do you, Seattle fan, look for Los Angeles to lose to stay away from bad juju in the postseason? Or would rather steer clear of an uber talented Lynx squad in the playoffs and go with the, err, evil you know in LA? Hmm. Why not take Los Angeles and send Tina Thompson out the same way Phoenix sent Lisa Leslie out in 2009? That’s if Thompson decides to retire after one of her more challenging seasons.