Tuesday, June 28 – 7 p.m. PT
KeyArena | Seattle, WA
Atlanta has the fourth-best record in the WNBA (8-6), but is on a three-game losing streak heading into Tuesday’s contest. The Storm just snapped a three-game losing streak on Friday, earning a 98-81 victory over Connecticut to improve to 5-9 on the season.
Having joined the WNBA just eight years ago, Atlanta is the league’s newest team. The Storm is 8-8 all-time against the Dream, including a 6-2 record at home. Each of the last three seasons, Seattle has won at home and lost to Atlanta on the road.
By the numbers, 35-year-old point guard Sue Bird is having one of the best seasons of 15-year career. Bird has shot 48.9 percent from the field and 44.3 percent from three-point range, which would both be the highest percentages of her career. She’s averaging 13.7 points per game, her most since 2011, and 5.6 assists per game, her most since the 2010 title-winning season. Her 85.3 percent shooting from the foul line and 0.9 steals per game are also personal bests since 2011.
On Friday against the Connecticut Sun, Seattle exploded for its best offensive outing of the season. In the victory, the Storm set season highs in points (98), field goals (35), field goal percentage (61.4) margin of victory (17) and points in a half (56). Led by the 29 points of Breanna Stewart, Seattle never trailed in the game and held its largest lead of the season (25) in the third quarter. Since the opening minutes of the first quarter, the Storm held a double-digit lead the entire game. It marked the 10th game out of the first 14 in which four Storm players reached double figures.
For the fourth straight season, Atlanta leads the WNBA in possessions per game (85.1). The Dream actually has been first or second in this category for eight consecutive years, and there are a couple of stats that explain the fast pace. Each of the last seven seasons, Atlanta was among the best in the league at forcing turnovers, scoring off turnovers and tallying fast-break points. The Dream has also been top-three in offensive rebounding for three straight years.
To overcome the Dream, Seattle will need to contain Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry, one of the top scorers in the league (20 points per game). McCoughtry is especially good at getting to the free throw line: She drew the most fouls in the league last year (197) and has ranked in the top four each of the last three seasons. On Tuesday, it will likely be Alysha Clark tasked with guarding McCoughtry.
- Over the weekend, the Storm completed a pair of transactions that saw guard Noelle Quinn and center Krystal Thomas return to the roster. In a trade for Quinn, Seattle sent the rights to Angel Robinson to Phoenix. Quinn played for the Storm during the 2013 and 2014 seasons before signing with Phoenix prior to the 2015 campaign. Averaging 5.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game for her career, Quinn has played in all 34 games in five seasons, including 2015 with the Mercury. Thomas, signed as a free agent after being released by the Storm in May, was drafted by Seattle in the third round of the 2011 WNBA Draft.
- To make room for Quinn and Thomas, the Storm waived guard Blake Dietrick and center Markeisha Gatling. On Monday, Atlanta announced it has signed Gatling to a contract after claiming her off waivers.