Bird, Stewart Offer Preview for Game 2 of the WNBA Finals

Bird, Stewart Offer Preview for Game 2 of the WNBA Finals

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Breanna Stewart / Virginia Lopez
Breanna Stewart / Virginia Lopez

In preparation for the continuation of the 2018 WNBA Finals, Seattle Storm Coach Dan Hughes gave his advice for getting his team to remain motivated after a big win Friday night.

I think there’s an expectation that you’re going to get an aggressive reaction from Washington. They’re a good basketball team, so all of a sudden their assertiveness will come to the forefront,” he said. “We have to bring a response in keeping with that. We may have to have even greater focus, even greater effort to attain and do the things that we want to do.” We just don’t want to be surprised by that because that’s a typical thing for good basketball teams to come out and be good on the glass and protect the basketball.

Originally, Breanna Stewart said the focus was for the Storm to disrupt Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver from getting any type of rhythm. But is that still a continued focus?

“I think it’s a continued focus, and I also think you have to recognize that to do that you have to do some early work,” Hughes said. “And we’re bringing multiple people at them. If you study the game, we’re not just talking about aggressive behavior on a solo defender; we have congestion coming at them. But the response to congestion is you have to get back and guard a team that’s shooting the ball well from three. And they didn’t in the first game and they had some looks. They’re probably going to shoot the ball even better, so our task is even greater now because as we do that we have to get back out to people that can score.”

Hughes said the fans were “incredibly impactful” during Game 1 at the Key.

“Oh my gosh. The Key crowd is incredibly impactful, and it’s grown through the years,” he said. “I’ve played here a lot of years and I came here and felt it but as the season goes on it’s been more impactful, and you can’t help but feel it. Sometimes you feel it in ways where you can’t even hear whistles sometimes. It gets loud in there.”

Stewart said, “We know they’re [Washington] going to come out aggressive and want to play better than they played last game and so are we. We’re going to come out just as aggressive and there were things that we needed to do better and we’re on our homecourt and need to protect it.

Stewart and her teammates regularly watch their plays post-game. How hard was that to do after Game 1?

“It’s honestly not that difficult at all,” she said. “We were able to get out in transition and really get into the rhythm that we wanted to early, but there was still stuff that we could have done better. Some of our rotations were a little off defensively and they just ended up missing the shot. We definitely need to clean those things up and be crisper.”

Stewart said the Storm fans helped quite a bit.

“Having them come out and be loud for 40 minutes motivates us to want to play our best and I’ve heard the crowd is going to be better for Game 2 than it was for Game 1,” she said.

Sue Bird isn’t resting on her laurels.

“That’s the challenge right, you can’t get too fat and happy over one win. It’s just one win. It’s a series and you have to keep the same focus,” she said. “You have to understand the success that we had was because of our energy level. You can talk about X’s and O’s, defensive schemes – which were there for us and we executed well – but it was really our energy that allowed us to do that. We know Washington is going to come out ready to go in Game 2 and we have to match that and even exceed it.”

Bird said she expects “a ton of energy” from Washington as they try to even the series.

“I re-watched the game and I heard Mike Thibault saying he felt like his team was casual and they were out there going through the motions so I’m sure that’s what they will be talking about in their practice and going into Game 2,” Bird said. “We just have to make sure we don’t get complacent.”

Game 2 of the 2018 WNBA Finals will take place Sunday at 12:30 p.m. in Seattle.

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