STORM WINS: Sorry for disappearing. We added more coverage to the paper edition, so there was less time to write here, given the tight deadline. Anyway, hope the 13,898 in attendance enjoyed the game because it might be the last at KeyArena. Time expired on the Dream, sealing a 87-84 win in Game 2. Surprised Cash couldn’t connect on the two free throws at the end, which makes me wonder what kind of door the Storm has on the Dream. The gifted team that uses a 10-player rotation was right there on Thursday. Seattle will need a concrete layer to keep Atlanta from breaking through to make this a series. For now, the Storm improves to 21-0 at KeyArena and is one win from winning its first championship since 2004. Jackson led with 26 points and seven rebounds while Cash added 19 and three assists. An unsung hero was Wright, who helped Cash defend McCoughtry. Wright finished with 17 points and five steals, cutting the turnovers back to three. Izzy and Angel had 21 points apiece for the Dream, which was limited to 23 FT attempts compared to the Storm’s 37. “We never die,” Meadors said. “We never stop. We always play all the way to the end of the game, no matter the score and we play as hard as we can.” Izzy fouled out of the game with 22.9 seconds remaining with her team down four points — a lot of time for the Dream to create. “I don’t know if we did quite as well on Izzy tonight as I thought we could have,” Agler said. “There were a couple of cases I thought she freed up and we didn’t stay in place with her. She hit some difficult shots.” Atlanta took a red-eye home and will practice after they land to prepare for Thursday’s Game 3 at Philips Arena. Seattle isn’t holding a traditional practice on Wednesday, traveling instead.
NO BREAKS: Man, McCoughtry was an excitement sucker with a sick three-pointer at the buzzer ending the opening half. Seattle had built a eight point lead in the second quarter, but the Dream nearly gobbled that up in the final two minutes of the half. McCoughtry made two buckets, Miller had a steal, and Castro Marques added a score to close the half down just 49-47. Seattle has three players in double digits while McCoughtry leads her team with 14 on 5 of 15 shooting. Seattle is getting outrebounded 20-12, but shooting 51.6 percent from the field. Cash has been money, getting 10 of her 12 points in the second quarter.
IZZY BACK: Castro Marques started the second quarter. The Dream is still shooting poorly, however, going 8 of 30 from the field to trail 31-28 with 6:17 remaining.
LOOKING GOOD: Their won’t be many massive runs in this game, so gotta give props to the Storm buckling down even deeper to build a 28-24 lead after a wicked turnaround jumper from Cash in McCoughtry’s face with 7:23 remaining. The crowd started whipping the towels, which looks good on television. ESPN even has the game up on its main page. Too bad its commercials promo-ing the game didn’t include the date and time of the matchup.
WHERE’S THE D?: The Storm is missing a prime opportunity to put the Dream away. Its shooters are off, going 6-for-24 from the field in the opening quarter. But the Storm fouling has given Atlanta nine FTs and the Storm spotted the Dream another eight off turnovers. No wonder the underdogs are up 21-19 after first-quarter play. Jackson leads the Storm with nine points. Four players for the Dream have four.
IZZY HURT?: Castro Marques is still on the bench with an ice pack on her nose. She played five minutes of the first quarter.
PENALTY: It’s a game of FTs again as officials try to get some control. The Dream is definitely rebounding better, winning that stat 13-5 against Seattle. The Storm has five turnovers and just three made baskets to lead to the 18-13 deficit. too bad, because McCoughtry is 1 of 9 from the field, but she’s finding Erika de Souza in the paint for layins.
GOTTA WEAR SHADES: Some fans literally can’t see as the sun comes down and a door is open, letting in the late evening rays. A few rows in Section 127 are wearing shades and using their homemade signs as sun blockers.
SPOTTED: I’m sure this section will be updated throughout the game, but to get it started, former Storm Gs Semeka Randall and Jamie Redd are seated courtside. Randall missed practice with her Ohio Bobcats this morning in order to make the trip. “They were pissed, but I’ll make it up to them,” she said.
TIME!: With McCoughtry and Castro Marques easily cutting their way into the paint for buckets, Agler had to call time to talk to his team about defense. Little isn’t having the start she had on Sunday, missing two open shots under the hoop and then hesitating on a drive, tossing the ball off to Jackson, who couldn’t control the frenzied pass. Seattle is down 7-2 with 7:56 remaining in the opening quarter.
GOLDEN APPLE: Washington Governor Chris Gregoire bet Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue that the Storm will beat the Dream in the finals. If the Storm brings home the championship, Perdue has promised to send Gregoire a box of Georgia peaches. In return, Gregoire has put up a box of Washington apples. “I’m convinced that Governor Perdue hasn’t seen the Seattle Storm in action – otherwise he wouldn’t jump at this bet,” said Gregoire in a statement released today.
The atmosphere is a little calmer inside KeyArena on Tuesday. Fans are casually walking in to take their seats compared to Sunday’s frantic feel where many said they didn’t know how to react to the Storm being back in the WNBA Finals after a five-year absence.
A wish from the stands is for top-seeded Seattle to crush visiting Atlanta in Game 2 of the best-of-five series. Neither team had a sparkling debut in the Finals, either missing defensive assignments or turning the ball over to finish in a one-point outcome.
Watching the Storm complete shoot-around Tuesday morning, it seems the team has its swagger back. The rosters are the same average age, but the Storm has far more postseason experience and championships from leagues across the globe, so playing a little sketchy in the opener of a Finals is rare. Now that they know how the Dream is going to play them, they know how combat the flurry.
Seattle hasn’t lost a game this season at KeyArena and its last loss overall was on the road against Washington on Aug. 15. If Atlanta doesn’t find a way to pull an upset Tuesday, it’s doubtful any home-court advantage at Philips on Thursday will stop Seattle from winning the title on the road. Did we mention the Storm was 11-6 away from KeyArena, with two being on last-second plays and two being when coach Brian Agler was fiddling with his lineup to give starters rest.
There won’t be any tinkering for Game 2. Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors is going with the same starting lineup along with Agler. But Seattle is without reserve F Abby Bishop, who suffered a concussion after being hit by a male practice player on Monday. She will not dress for the game and Agler is uncertain whether she’ll travel with the team to Atlanta on Wednesday.
“Abby is not a player who’s in our tight rotation, but it could potentially effect us,” her said.
In Game 1, officiating forced both coaches to mix up their rotations. Meadors plays her entire roster, so it didn’t have the same affect as it did on Agler, who shrunk his deepth-chart to seven players for majority of the postseason. Reserve Jana Vesela was worked for stints while C Ashley Robinson made an appearance in Game 1 of the Finals to compete against Atlanta’s big post rotation.
“I’ve always liked Ashley’s athleticism,” said Agler of Robinson, who played three minutes. “I’m sure we can potentially go there again. She’s a smart player, she understands what’s going on and she could give us some quality minutes.”
There is a new batch of officials for Thursday, we’ll see if that improves the play. But the first group might have turned off fans. The lower-bowl has some open patches and three-fourths of the upper deck is blocked off by the traditional black curtains. On Sunday, there were about 15,000 fans. In 2004, KeyArena sold out the facility’s 17,072-seat capacity.
Let’s get you prepared with the starting lineups:
F Angel McCoughtry
F Iziane Castro-Marques
C Sancho Lyttle
G Coco Miller
G Armintie Price
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Camille Little
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are Eric Brewton, Cameron Inouye, and Scott Twardoski.