Playoff Time for WNBA’s Seattle Storm

Playoff Time for WNBA’s Seattle Storm

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Mercedes Russell by Virginia Lopez, The Seattle Lesbian

The WNBA defending champion Seattle Storm are heading back into the playoffs to start the defense of their title.

The first round of the WNBA playoffs begin Wednesday, September 11 which starts with the last four seeds of the eight playoff teams facing off in a one-game win or go home.

Seattle won their final regular season game which finalized their record at 18-16 which was the same as the Minnesota Lynx.

The Storm held the tie-breaker against the Lynx winning three of their four match-ups this season putting Seattle as the number six seed and Minnesota number seven.

That difference gives Seattle the home playoff game to be held at 7 pm on September 11 at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett.

Seattle has had a rough season with personnel changes including the loss of two number former number ones in 2018 WNBA and Finals MVP Breanna Stewart to injury and 11x All-Star Sue Bird to knee surgery.

They also started out without head coach Dan Hughes who had successful cancer surgery and missed the first few games of the season.

Throughout the season the Storm continued to overcome injuries whether someone went out for one or two games like three-point sharpshooter Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis or multiple game loss like in the case of All-Star and 2016 number one pick Jewell Loyd.

Despite the losses the team kept their focus and found others to step up to find ways to win and stay in the hunt for the playoffs.

This includes the continued rise of MVP and Defender of the Year candidate Natasha Howard who has taken the mantle left by Stewart and showed strong, consistent play all season.

Despite missing a few games to injury and taking some time to get back into rhythm Loyd has continued to show her abilities to hit the shot, guard her player or do whatever is necessary to help her team.

Alysha Clark whose defense has become a staple of her play continued to show her ability to be wherever the ball is as she upped her offense making her a dual threat all season.

Center and second year player Mercedes Russell was called upon to find her next level and she has shown that she has no hesitation to go up against any big in the league with a physical presence and court sense to help with play in the paint.

Guard Jordin Canada is known to fans as the “human highlight reel” as all season she has given crowd pleasing and effective assists as well as acrobatic shots.

Off the bench support includes University of Washington alum and Seattle guard Sami Whitcomb who started a few games when Loyd was out with injury. Bird once called her a “gnat” when it came to her in-your-face defense and play on the court. Whitcomb is another three-point threat but has shown herself to be strong on defense playing tight on whoever she’s asked to guard.

Forward Crystal Langhorne is another consistent player who added a three-point shot that has stretched her already impressive shot selection and has become an even bigger crowd pleaser. Veteran Langhorne’s experience has been invaluable to her team in helping them to stay focused.

Whether playing a few minutes or most of the game the Storm bench, which also includes Shavonte Zellous, Blake Dietrick and Courtney Paris, has continued to support and be ready for whatever the season has thrown at them and will be called upon to continue as they hit the playoffs and seek to capture a fourth title.

The playoff matchup with Seattle and Minnesota has the makings of another epic match-up in playoff history and will showcase two teams with players in line for possible post-season awards including the Lynx rookie Napheesa Collier who is the top pick for Rookie of the Year.

The teams face off at 7 pm on September 11 at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett and the first 3,000 fans will receive a t-shirt  that says “Don’t Doubt Us” a mantra stated by Howard during their first press conference of the season to let the league know despite the loss of two starters the Storm will still be contending for the wins and the championship.

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