Welcome to the 15th edition of “But really, how long can the Seattle Storm keep doing this?”
“This,” of course, being “survive without at least two of their key players at any given time depending on who’s fallen to 2019’s especially ruthless WNBA injury bug this week.”
The answer? Well, they’re at home, so probably a little longer. Despite the fact that Seattle dropped its first home game of the season to the Mercury on Sunday, they kept it close, they out-rebounded the team they should have out-rebounded — basically, everything was working for them. Except their scoring. But when your most recent missing player is your second-leading scorer, maybe part of this was to be expected.
That said, if you want to see a team where everything has been working for them, and it’s been resulting in wins, check out the New York Liberty. Winners of their last two — to the 10th-place Wings and the 12th-place Dream, yes, but wins are wins — the Liberty have been finding a second (or third, or fourth) scorer to supplement Tina Charles’ consistently outstanding performances, and their defense has been fantastic. And that’s without their four players away at EuroBasket Women!
Anyway, if the Storm hadn’t lost their last game, the prediction of a Seattle blowout might be a pretty solid one. But the Storm have looked especially vulnerable lately — their first home loss almost came to Chicago in the game just before the Phoenix loss.
Will simple momentum be enough to push the Liberty over the top? It’s been unwise to count out the Liberty since they hit their stride, so let’s just say sure, why not. This season has been perfect for that kind of upset.
New York Liberty (5-7) vs. Seattle Storm (8-6)
When: Wednesday, July 3, at 3 p.m. ET
Where: Alaska Airlines Arena, Seattle, WA
How to watch: WNBA League Pass, JOEtv (Seattle-area TV)
Keys to the matchup: Defense. In their two-game winning streak, the Liberty have held opponents to 29.9 percent shooting from the floor, the best in the league by far. The Storm, in their 1-1 outing in their last two games, haven’t been nearly as stifling — their 43.6 percent opponent field goal percentage deftly outweighs their own 38.8 percent shooting in that span. The Storm are still scoring more points in their last two games than the Liberty, thanks in part to their three-point shooting, but will they be able to get past the Liberty on threes alone? If their overall shooting doesn’t improve, that’ll probably be their goal — and therefore, the Liberty’s goal to defend from three as well as they do overall.