Sometimes you get a premonition and three-time MVP Lauren Jackson had two this season that are starting to materialize. One was, of course, that this would be a special season for the Storm. The second was that the WNBA championship would go through Atlanta (pictured right by The Associated Press).
If you had a chance to watch the Dream blitz their way to a first Eastern Conference championship with an unblemished record, you know why Jackson made the early proclamation. Atlanta is huge in the paint, quick on the wings, gritty in the backcourt, and deep on the bench. Sound familiar?
Yes, the clash of the Western and Eastern champions has the makings off another WNBA Finals classic because of how well the opponents matchup. But the Storm did sweep the Dream in two games during the regular season, the last being a 10-point road win in August.
“This was an awesome performance for the Atlanta Dream,” coach Marynell Meadors told reporters after the team won its first conference title. In 2008 the Dream was 4-30.
Seattle, which has won its past seven games, including the postseason, had a strong practice today and is really motivated for the Finals. Players are loose, especially Jackson and Bird, who haven’t been to the Finals since winning the championship in 2004.
Game 1 isn’t until Sunday at KeyArena, giving the WNBA a Super Bowl feel with teams getting about a week to prepare for the matchup.
“It has been a grind the whole year,” Storm All-Star Swin Cash said. “We’ve been driving and driving and staying focused. I think, by having this week off, it kind of let us get a couple of days to be like – ‘Woo!’ Now, we can come back today (Monday) and we had a really great practice. I was happy to see that our team could be mature enough to handle what just happened over the weekend and come back and really work.”
Storm coach Brian Agler said the direction of the session was on offense since the execution wasn’t sharp throughout 40 minutes in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, allowing Phoenix to build a 19-point lead midway through the third quarter.
Everyone participated, including reserve F Le’coe Willingham, who sprained her right ankle on Sunday. She’ll be available for the matchup against Atlanta (4-0).
TV TIME: Game 1 on Sunday will be aired on ABC at noon PST while the remaining games will air on ESPN2. The Storm said its focus is to win the best-of-five series in three, but the celebration most likely won’t take place at Phillips Arena.
Atlanta won’t release its playoff sites until 10 a.m. PST on Wednesday, but its home court is scheduled to hold Sesame Street Live from Sept. 16 through 19. Games 3 and 4 are expected to be played at The Arena at Gwinnett Center, which is about 30-minutes outside of Atlanta.
The facility can hold 13,000, which is more than Georgia Tech in midtown, where the team normally practices. But the Dream barely broke 6,000 in regular-season attendance this year at Phillips and 8,000 in the postseason.
RE-PLAY: Like the Stanky Legg, highlights from Game 2 don’t get old. Watch them, again, here: