While chatting on the team bus, Storm F Swin Cash had a question for reserve F Svetlana Abrosimova, “How many more games do we have?” she asked
“You want to play these games so fast because you want to get there,” Cash said.
There, of course being the postseason. The Storm (25-4) locked up everything possible on Tuesday in a 10-point win against Atlanta. So, there’s theoretically nothing left for the WNBA-leaders to play for with five games remaining.
But Seattle could play a factor in its opponent’s chances, however. The team faces Connecticut (14-15) on Friday and the Sun, which is three-games behind Washington for the fourth and final seed in the Eastern Conference, basically needs to win all of its games in order to advance. Out West, Phoenix (14-15) can secure a spot with a Los Angeles (10-19) loss on Thursday. That would also hurt the Sparks’ chances of nabbing the final slot in their conference — sitting one-game behind San Antonio (11-18).
Yet, Seattle can’t get to comfortable in thinking San Antonio will be its opening-round opponent. It would be nice since the Storm swept the Silver Stars in four games this season, but Minnesota (11-17) could also fall to the spot or out of the postseason picture with six games remaining — four on the road and one of those at KeyArena.
In fact, on San Antonio has the perceived easy road to lock up a spot with five games left, four at home. The Silver Stars are 5-8 at home, though. The Mercury (four), Sparks (three), and Lynx (four) all play majority of their final games on the road.
Regardless, Storm coach Brian Agler wants to correct glitches in the team’s defense while resting his starters. None played more than 25-minutes against Atlanta and while the plan was to rest them in the second half not first of a wild game, Agler doesn’t want any to play more than 25-minutes down the stretch, either.
“I don’t know if we’re going to go in with a plan anymore,” he said. “I think everybody understands what we’re trying to do. Our goals are to be as fresh as possible for the playoffs, hopefully be healthy and try to stay sharp. To do that, you’ve got to cut back minutes.
“I don’t like how it played out, but we learned something the last (Atlanta) game. Starters start. The second unit comes in and plays when it’s not so-called ‘pressure’ and then the starters get a chance to play and see how it goes from there. If we get to a point where we don’t have a chance to win, we probably pull them. If we have a chance to win, we probably play them. I don’t know. I don’t want to go in with a plan this time because then I end up not sticking with it.”
The Storm had a good hour practice on Thursday in Connecticut and has the luxury of watching L.A. and Minnesota battle for playoff positioning this evening. There are five games on Friday, including Seattle’s at Connecticut.
And while Agler’s plan may be to rest players with MVP-candidate Lauren Jackson stating she’d welcome it because she’s tired, don’t expect Cash to hit cruise control.
“I don’t take a step back,” Cash said. “I guess when you’re mentally in that place, there’s no time for rest because right now is when you have to start playing your best basketball. You have to keep a rhythm and you have to be ready to go into the playoffs because you want to be at your best. Every player approaches it different, but that’s just my mentality.”
VESELA FINE: Storm reserve Jana Vesela practiced on Thursday after suffering a deep gash over her right eye in the first half of the Atlanta win. Vesela collided with Dream F Iziane Castro Marques, who is wearing a facemask to protect a broken nose. Apparently Vesela’s face hit the rim of the mask, causing the cut that needed five stitches to close.
She said she had a headache after the game, but was re-evaluated on Wednesday and no symptoms of a concussion were found. Vesela will be able to play on Friday.
BOOTY POP: Thursday is Storm C Ashley Robinson’s 28th birthday. She began celebrations by attending G Cappie Pondexter’s launch of the New York star’s styling firm on Wednesday in New York. The event was hosted by supermodel Jessica White and attended by celebrities like comedian Mike Epps. When Robinson arrived at practice on Thursday, she received a humorous present from teammates Camille Little and Le’coe Willingham before practice Thursday.
“Camille and Le’coe always talk about their butts, so they got me that thing on the info mercial ‘The Booty Pop,'” said Robinson of the undergarment that adds extra padding to your derriere. “So, I got a Booty Pop to wear with my jeans, I’m so excited. When you see Camille’s butt everyday in jeans, you kind of want some booty pop.”
Other teammates said they had gifts and dinner in the works. Robinson is one of three players who have a birthday during the season. Jackson’s is May 11 while Abrosimova celebrated her 30th on July 9.