The Storm will face off against the Mystics in the opening game of the WNBA Finals on Friday night. A hard-fought semifinals ending in two Game 5s saw the Mystics reach the Finals for the first time in franchise history and the Storm on the hunt for their third WNBA championship and first since 2010.
No. 3 Washington Mystics (22-12) at No. 1 Seattle Storm (26-8)
When: Friday, Sept. 7 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: KeyArena, Seattle | TICKETS
How to watch: ESPNEWS, Monumental Sports Network (Washington, DC), JOETV (Seattle), streaming live on ESPN3 and available on ESPN app
Injuries: For the Mystics, Elena Delle Donne (left knee hyperextension) played in Washington’s Game 5 semifinals win over the Atlanta Dream and is probable to suit up tonight. For the Storm, Sue Bird (broken nose) played in Seattle’s Game 5 semifinals win over the Phoenix Mercury and is probable to play tonight.
Storylines to follow
The Finals will be an awesome matchup of two of the best players in the WNBA today in Elena Delle Donne and 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart. Delle Donne showed her heart and grit in the semifinals, sitting out Game 3 with a knee bone bruise and then going into attack mode to lift the Mystics over the Dream in Games 4 and 5.
There will need to be continued big play from key Mystics heading into the Finals. Kristi Toliver played crucial veteran minutes in the semis and she will need to continue her hot hand in the finals. Rookie guard Ariel Atkins has to continue to be a threat both offensively and on the boards to keep the Mystics competitive. With Delle Donne setting the pace for the Mystics, she will need to continue to control the pace of the game as well as encourage continuity on the team to beat the Storm.
In the semifinals, we saw the Seattle Storm go head-to-head with the tough Phoenix Mercury. It was a bit of a surprise that the Storm let the series go to Game 5 based on the brand of basketball they have played all season, but the Mercury were not going out without a fight. The Storm always play with composure and their unforced cohesiveness is something that always makes them fun to watch.
But the Storm will need star power from veteran Sue Bird and MVP Breanna Stewart. When they’re on, the team is hard to beat. Bird had an incredible 14-point fourth quarter to give the Storm the final push to the finish line in Game 5 against the Mercury, finishing with 22 points. Meanwhile, Stewart contributed 28 points and 7 rebounds.
A combination of Alysha Clark, Natasha Howard and Jewell Loyd will need to step up in this series for Seattle. If Stewart and Bird can control the series offensively, having two other big contributors in the game at all times will help lift them to 1-0 in the Finals and on their way to their third WNBA championship.