Tuesday, July 5 – 4 p.m. PT
Philips Arena | Atlanta, GA
ESPN3; WNBA League Pass
After a stellar start to the season, Atlanta has lost six games in a row and dropped below .500 (8-9). On Sunday, the Dream fell at home to Phoenix despite 26 points from Tiffany Hayes and 22 from Angel McCoughtry. Seattle (6-10) is coming off an 83-78 home loss to Dallas on Thursday.
In Atlanta, the Storm is just 2-6 all-time against the Dream. The teams met at KeyArena one week ago, when rookie forward Breanna Stewart scored 38 points to guide Seattle to a come-from-behind victory. The 38 points scored by Stewart are tied for the most by any WNBA player this season.
Tuesday’s game marks the midway point of the season. Thus far, the Storm has been much improved from a season ago, when it finished 10-24 and missed the playoffs. Last year Seattle didn’t have six wins until mid-August, when it was 6-17. After Crystal Langhorne led the Storm with 11.1 points per game last year, Seattle now has three players averaging better than 13 points per contest (Breanna Stewart – 18.8; Jewell Loyd – 17.1; and Sue Bird – 13.5). As a team, the Storm has also increased its average scoring output from 70.4 points per game in 2014 to 81.3 this season.
Stewart, Loyd and Bird currently form the highest-scoring trio in the WNBA (49.4 points per game). Stewart and Loyd are both in the league’s top 10 in scoring, while Bird is averaging her most points per game since 2011. It is the Storm’s highest-scoring trio since 2007, when Lauren Jackson won MVP after averaging 23.8 points per game and Bird wasn’t even among the team’s top three scorers (Betty Lennox, Iziane Castro Marques). Atlanta also boasts a high-scoring trio: Angel McCoughtry (19.6 points per game), Tiffany Hayes (16.1) and Elizabeth Williams (13.1).
In last week’s contest at KeyArena, Dream forward Elizabeth Williams had arguably her best game of the season, scoring 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting and pulling down eight rebounds. Seattle forward Breanna Stewart countered with a Storm rookie-record 38 points, including eight in the final 3:18 to help her team come from behind. Williams and the Dream will surely be motivated to shut down Stewart in Tuesday’s rematch.
- This week features Seattle’s only back-to-back of the season – the Storm will face the New York Liberty at Madison Square Garden 24 hours after tipoff of Tuesday’s game in Atlanta. Seattle will then play at San Antonio on Friday before returning home for a Sunday evening matchup with Indiana (4 p.m. PT at KeyArena).