After a game like last night's 80-70 win in Atlanta, it's even more clear that what the Seattle Storm do for the remainder of the regular season really doesn't matter much, as described by ESPN's Mechelle Voepel.
WNBA: Playoff race will go down to wire - ESPN
Whatever the Storm do, there might be second-guessers, but there's no point worrying about that. The maturity and focus of this team is such that I think getting a little rest for the starters is the right move, and I wouldn't be concerned about it negatively impacting anything.
In fact, it's quite evident that if this team remains competitive -- win or lose -- with increased minutes going to reserves, really nothing but good can come of this redistribution of minutes for the remainder of the regular season.
What we saw last night was balanced contributions from across the roster against a quality opponent on the road.
It doesn't get a whole lot better than that.
Storm statistical MVP: Tanisha Wright
Although the starters came out slow, Wright finished as the team's most efficient scorer, going 5-7 from the free throw line and 4-7 from the field. But her 7 rebounds -- her second most since May 22 at Phoenix -- and 18% defensive rebounding percentage was also an asset against a Dream team that dominated the Storm on the offensive boards.
Dream statistical MVP: Erika DeSouza
On the flip side, the Dream dominated the boards for the first three quarters, beating the Storm in offensive rebounding percentage 51%-32%. A large part of that was DeSouza's 32% defensive rebounding percentage. She was also the most efficient scorer, but on a night on which the Dream shot 29.5% perhaps that's not saying much.
Key player: Sancho Lyttle
Lyttle had a career high 12 offensive rebounds and an offensive rebounding percentage of 26.89%, which obviously contributed heavily to the Dream dominating the offensive boards for the first three quarters. However, she also went 5-20 from the field, which only contributed to the Dream's general shooting struggles.
Key stat: effective field goal percentage
This has happened before -- a team has beaten the Storm in every significant way except for shooting. As much as the Storm pride themselves on defense, this was a bit of a gift from the Dream who simply couldn't hit a shot. In the Storm's fourth quarter comeback, the Storm outshot the Dream with an effective field goal percentage of 50% to 29.41% while committing not one turnover and turning around the offensive rebounding situation.
Again, it wasn't the ideal way to get a win, but if you can rest the regulars and still pull out a fourth quarter win, that's obviously a good thing.