By Matthew Roberson
The Seattle Storm (14-16) hits McCamish Pavilion on Wednesday night for a late-season clash with the Atlanta Dream (10-20). Action will commence at 4 p.m PDT.
Seattle storms into the southeast with palpable confidence, having beaten the Chicago Sky by 37 in its last game. The annihilation of Chicago was the fourth win in a row for the Storm. During this recent quartet of victories, Seattle is scoring 85.5 points per game and holding its opponents to 73.5, a mark of stinginess that would lead the league if extrapolated across the entire season. A win for the Storm would give the team its first back-to-back road wins of 2017. Not only that, but a win for Seattle would also clinch the season series against Atlanta. The Dream currently sits 10th in the standings, four games out of the eighth seed. Atlanta is in the midst of a brutal nine-game losing streak, which has included devastating losses to fellow playoff hopefuls in Chicago and Dallas. Since the All-Star break, Atlanta is shooting a league-worst 39.7 percent from the field. Seattle has made 47 percent of its field goals since the break, ranking second in the WNBA.
In the two previous Atlanta-Seattle encounters this year, Seattle’s tandem of Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd proved very successful. Stewart went for 24 points, nine rebounds and a season-high six assists in the July 15 installment. She is squashing the Dream for 20 points per game and a 47 percent field goal percentage this year. Loyd is lighting up Atlanta for 18.5 points per outing and has connected on 22-for-24 free throws against them in two games. Sue Bird, who is just 12 assists away from breaking the WNBA career assist record, divvied out seven assists last time she faced the Dream.
The Storm is playing its best basketball of the season right now. Not since May had the team leashed together four consecutive wins, all of which came at home. Seattle’s current hot streak includes two celebrations away from home, and a +12 point differential inflated greatly by the beatdown of Chicago. After losing the first three games of August, Seattle has taken every one since. As a team, Seattle is making 49.2 percent of its shot attempts and 38.7 percent of its three’s over the last four contests.
AT A GLANCE: DREAM
There is no denying that Atlanta has underachieved as of late. The Dream has earned exactly one win since the All-Star break and gone 2-12 in its last 14 performances. Like Seattle, the scuffling Dream started the season on a high note. Head coach Michael Cooper and his squad were 4-1 when the calendar flipped to June. A paltry 6-19 summer span has put the team’s playoff aspirations in serious jeopardy.
Atlanta’s offense, already a bottom-three unit in the league, has unsurprisingly gone cold during the nine-game skid. The team is scoring at a 74.2 point per game clip since securing its last win on July 25. In that time the Dream has scored over 80 points just twice. When examining every team’s numbers from its last nine games, Atlanta is dead last in points per game, field goal percentage, three pointers and offensive rating.
This is not to say the second half of the season has been a total disaster for Atlanta. Point guard Layshia Clarendon is dishing 6.4 assists per game during the tough losing streak. She has been a nice distributor all season, with her 6.9 dimes per game placing second in the league. Rookie guard Brittney Sykes is netting 15.9 points per game during the winless stretch.
Wednesday night’s competition will break the even 11-11 series history between the two sides. Every year since 2013, Atlanta and Seattle have split their season series. This rubber match provides an opportunity for one of them to claim bragging rights heading into 2018.
The most recent conflict of the Storm and Dream took place on July 15 at KeyArena. Seattle prevailed 90-84. Crystal Langhorne was the star of the evening, making all nine of her field goal attempts for 20 points while nabbing eight rebounds. Each member of the Storm’s starting lineup put a double-digit number in the scoring column that night. Tiffany Hayes led Atlanta with 19 points in the loss. Damiris Dantas came off the bench for 12 points and a team-high nine boards.
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