The two-time WNBA champion Seattle Storm will begin its quest for a third title on May 20, as it takes on the Phoenix Mercury in its season opener at KeyArena, creating a rematch of last season’s first-round playoff game. While a showdown between Sue Bird, the league’s all-time leader in assists, and Diana Taurasi, the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, will undoubtedly be a showstopper to tip-off 2018, there are several exciting matchups that will certainly generate an electric buzz around the Emerald City.
With the unveiling of the 2018 slate on Thursday, we broke down the top Storm home games you won’t want to miss this season.
*All games times Pacific, subject to change
May 20 – Phoenix Mercury (6 p.m.)
Bird, the WNBA’s all-time assists (2,610) leader, meets longtime friend/rival and the league’s all-time leading scorer in Taurasi (7,867). Does it get any better? In a matchup that also features the WNBA’s top two scorers from last season in Brittney Griner (21.9 PPG) and Breanna Stewart (19.9 PPG), this one is sure to be a clash to remember. To celebrate last season’s assist record, the first 3,000 fans in attendance will receive a Bird bobblehead. The Storm will also look to avenge last season’s first-round playoff loss that took place at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Ariz.
Phoenix has never won a road opener in Seattle, posting an 0-4 record overall.
May 31 – Las Vegas Aces (7 p.m.)
The No. 1 overall draft pick from 2017 and former UW standout Kelsey Plum makes her return to Seattle for this matchup on the final day of May, as the Las Vegas Aces make their inaugural appearance at KeyArena. The WNBA announced the relocation of San Antonio to Las Vegas in October of 2017, and with that relocation came a new head coach in Bill Laimbeer. Along with a new location, coach, logo and uniform, the Aces should have an enhanced look on the hardwood with the No. 1 pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft.
June 15 – Connecticut Sun (7 p.m.)
What makes a meeting with the Connecticut Sun and its two-star ‘Thomas’ tandem of Alyssa and Jasmine Thomas? Jewell Loyd bobblehead giveaways, of course. The first 3,000 fans in attendance will get the memorabilia, as the Storm looks for its first win over the Sun since June 24, 2016, during Dads and Daughters Night at KeyArena. Last season, Loyd averaged a career-high 17.7 points per game, shooting over 38 percent from outside and 86.3 percent at the line.
June 22 – Indiana Fever (7 p.m.)
Seattle’s annual Pride game will take place on June 22, and this year’s opponent features standout guard Tiffany Mitchell and the Indiana Fever. Seattle owns a 13-5 all-time record versus Indiana at home, and, in 2017, notched two wins over the Fever at KeyArena for the first time in franchise history. In the second meeting of the season on May 28, the Storm shot a blistering 61.4 percent en route to a 94-70 win, tying a franchise record for the most points scored against this Eastern Conference foe.
June 28 – Los Angeles Sparks (6 p.m.)
Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike make up arguably the best frontcourt in the league, and the Sparks make their first appearance of the 2018 season at KeyArena in this heavyweight battle on June 28. Seattle will shoot for its sixth straight win over Los Angeles in games played at KeyArena, a streak dating back to the 2015 season. With Courtney Paris and Natasha Howard helping on the inside, Seattle should matchup quite well with its longtime Western Conference rival.
July 8 – Washington Mystics (4 p.m.)
Can Seattle tame Elena Delle Donne like it did last season in its lone home game against the Mystics? Only time will tell. Seattle’s stingy defense held Delle Donne to just 14 points, and Loyd racked up 26 of her own en route to an 81-71 victory. The Storm will face Washington at KeyArena twice in 2018, including this contest that includes Stewie bobblehead giveaways for the first 3,000 fans. In the Storm’s second to last regular-season game of 2017 on Sept. 1 at Washington, Bird became the WNBA’s all-time assist leader with assist No. 2,600. She also became the second player in league history to record at least 13 dimes with zero turnovers (Jennifer Rizzotti, 14 assists, zero turnovers vs. New York; 6/21/02).
July 10 – Los Angeles Sparks (noon)
The Sparks return to town one final time for this Kids Day, noon tip-off on July 10. Seattle has gone 2-0 against Los Angeles at home five times in its 18-year history, so milestone No. 6 could be lurking this season. The Storm will be looking to finish above the Sparks in the WNBA standings for the first time since the 2011 season, which was also the last time Seattle finished above .500 (21-13).
Aug. 3 – Minnesota Lynx (7 p.m.)
The four-time WNBA champion Lynx make their lone appearance in the Emerald City late in the season, as Seattle seeks its second consecutive win over Minnesota for the first time since 2014. Perhaps the game of the year for the Storm last season took place on Aug. 16 in front of a packed house at KeyArena, when Crystal Langhorne scored the go-ahead put-back with 11.1 seconds left to lift Seattle to a 62-61 upset over Minnesota. With a plethora of superstars on the court, including the Storm trio of Bird, Stewart and Loyd, as well as Minnesota’s Sylvia Fowles, Lindsay Whalen and two-time All-Star MVP Maya Moore, this one is sure to be a dandy that you can’t miss. Storm head coach Dan Hughes will also face former assistant coach Cheryl Reeve, who served under Hughes during his time with the Cleveland Rockers in 2003.
Aug. 17 – New York Liberty (7 p.m.)
Like Minnesota, the New York Liberty will make its way to KeyArena just once in 2018. With a pair of 2017 All-Stars in Tina Charles and Sugar Rodgers, the Liberty is sure to be a top contender in the East. Although Laimbeer (Aces head coach) is out of the picture, you can rest assured the Liberty’s stifling defensive pressure will remain in frame, as Katie Smith enters her first season as head coach. Fans should keep an eye on sharpshooter Sami Whitcomb, who had her breakout game against New York last season on May 26, drilling a franchise-record six three’s in the second half on the way to leading Seattle to a come-from-behind 87-81 victory. This will also be the Storm’s ‘Team Poster Giveaway’ night.
Aug. 19 – Dallas Wings (4 p.m.)
Seattle’s regular-season home finale, also Fan Appreciation Night, will tip-off at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 19. Paris will square off against her former team in the Dallas Wings, and the Storm will look to finish strong before its hopeful third straight playoff appearance.
It’s no question that all games count (and I mean, COUNT) in the WNBA, especially since the playoff format disregards conference association (top eight teams make the postseason). But in all reality – some games are simply more fun to watch, so save these Storm dates on your 2018 calendar.