(Bradenton, FL) – The Seattle Storm now take a commanding 2-0 lead over the Minnesota Lynx in their Best of Five semifinals series after defeating the Lynx 89-79. With the victory, the Storm are now just one win away from a return trip to the WNBA Finals.
This game and this series have really been all about the growth and development of Jewell Loyd. Loyd has been the leading scorer in both games, but it’s also been her efficiency that is opening a lot of eyes from around the league.
Loyd finished with 20 points on 6-10 FG shooting (60%). She was also 4-6 (67%) from the three-point range. In Game 1, Loyd scored 25 points on 8-9 (89%) shooting. She also knocked down 4-5 (80%) of her threes in that game. The 6th year guard has really taken her game to a whole new level. Loyd is averaging 22.5 PPG on 74% field goal shooting in the playoffs. More than anyone else, Loyd is the reason Seattle leads Minnesota 2-0.
Four of Seattle’s starters scored in double figures. Besides Loyd’s 20 points. Breanna Stewart once again struggled with her shooting 4-13 (31%) including 0-7 from long distance, but she still had an incredible all around game. Stewart flirted with a triple double scoring 17 points, pulling down eight rebounds, and dishing out seven assists. She also had an impact on the defensive end with three steals and two blocked shots. Stewart also got to the foul line more than any other where she went 9-9 from the charity stripe.
Alysha Clark had another strong game with 13 points and five rebounds. She also helped limit Crystal Dangerfield to just 10 points on 3-10 shooting. Clark finished 2nd in the voting for Defensive Player of the Year this season behind Candace Parker.
Natasha Howard gave Seattle good energy scoring 11 point and seven rebounds. It also appeared to me that she was guarding Napheesa Collier a bit more in Game 2.
Collier had her way with Breanna Stewart in the low post last game scoring 25 points. But Seattle did a much better job in this game limiting her to just 12 points on 5-14 shooting. It certainly helped that Collier picked up her third personal foul early in the 2nd quarter and had to sit the rest of the first half in foul trouble. In fact, she played just six seconds in the 2nd period before having to return to the bench. This also bothered her offensive flow as she was never able to get into a rhythm in this game because of her foul trouble.
Damiris Dantas led the way for the Minnesota Lynx in this game scoring 23 points. She also tied a team-high with seven rebounds. Dantas has emerged as a potential star getting run as a stretch five (Center) with Sylvia Fowles missing the majority of this season with a calf injury. While losing Fowles makes the Lynx a bit weaker on the defensive end, Dantas’ play has actually been giving them more on the offensive end. Dantas is a legit three-point shooter as a 6’ 3” Center. In this game, she went 5-7 (71%) from beyond the arc.
The Lynx in total continued to shoot the long ball extremely well. In Game 1, they shot 14-31 (45%) from the three-point line. In Game 2, they were just as good going 13-28 (46%). They are a very deadly team that has the capability to score in bunches and as we saw in this game erase massive deficits with relative ease.
Odyssey Sims continues to have a strong series scoring 18 points, pulling down five rebounds and handing out four assists. She also did a terrific job getting the foul line going 8-8 from the free throw line in this game. The back and forth battle between Sims and Loyd has been a fun one to watch in this series.
Beyond their starters, Minnesota didn’t get much at all from their bench. In Game 2, Storm Coach Kloppenburg did play his bench a bit more. Jordin Canada, Mercedes Russell, and Sami Whitcomb all got good minutes and made contributions; while Epiphanny Prince actually saw some action after sitting on the bench for the entirety of Game 1. Seattle’s bench outscored Minnesota’s 21-8 in this game and that played a large role in the end result.
Around the W
Who could have predicted this? The 7th overall seed Connecticut Sun are now just one win away from returning to the WNBA Finals after defeating the Las Vegas Aces Thursday night 77-68. And frankly, if Alyssa Thomas doesn’t get injured in the first quarter of Game 2, they probably would have swept the #1 overall seed Las Vegas Aces.
The Sun dominated Game 1 winning it by 25 points. Despite losing their franchise player Alyssa Thomas early in Game 2, they were tied with Vegas in the final minute of Game 2 before A’ja Wilson took over late in the game to secure the victory for the Aces.
Game 3 was another competitive game similar to Game 2 between these two teams. The Sun led 19-18 after one and led 38-32 at half time. A huge third quarter response by the Aces, outscoring Connecticut 24-15 led to Las Vegas leading by three points as we entered the 4th and final quarter of play at 56-53. Vegas looked like they were the ones on their way to a 2-1 series lead leading by seven points at 64-57 with about five minutes remaining in the game.
A’ja Wilson has continued to play like the MVP in the playoffs, leading her team with 20 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks. But she’s just not getting enough help from the rest of her team. Angel McCoughtry added 14 points and seven rebounds, and Danielle Robinson was the only other player to score in double digits with 11 points.
The Sun’s defense clamped down holding Las Vegas to just four points over the final five minutes. Connecticut finished the game on a 20-4 run. Alyssa Thomas scored eight of her game high 23 points during that time. Connecticut outscored Las Vegas 24-12 in the final quarter.
Frankly, it’s a miracle A. Thomas was even playing in the game. She dislocated her shoulder early in Game 2 and was writhing in pain on the floor. Other players said they could hear her screaming in the backroom as they adjusted her dislocated shoulder back into place.
And it’d be one thing if she was just out there as a decoy not actually doing much. But no, she literally led her team to victory. She led them in scoring with 23 points, in rebounding with 12 boards, in steals with three, and she was second on the team in assists with four. She is incredible!
She definitely had help. Center Brionna Jones, who’s done an admirable job of filling in for Jonquel Jones this season, had her own double double with 15 point and 10 rebounds. DeWanna Bonner also had 12 point and 10 rebounds. Connecticut’s front court has been dominating this matchup. Normally, Las Vegas bigs are able to take control in the low post, with large advantages in rebounding. They haven’t been able to do that in this series and it’s hurting them a lot.
Jasmine Thomas was the other player to score in double figures with 10 points. She also led her team in assists with six. J. Thomas was the hero of Game 1 scoring 31 in Connecticut’s 87-62 victory.
If you’ve enjoyed this article and want to read even more including Storm interviews on what they need to do to close out the s
eries, quarter by quarter breakdowns, and more interviews about Game 2 make sure to check out the Complete edition at the link below.