By Matthew Roberson
Coming off its first win since late July, the Seattle Storm (11-16) hopes to put a winning streak together as it welcomes Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles and the Minnesota Lynx (21-4) to KeyArena. Tipoff is at 7:00 p.m. PDT on Wednesday, Aug. 16.
Beating Minnesota will be no easy task, as the team flaunts the best record in the WNBA and a roster littered with four All-Stars. Seattle needs every win it can get as the squad battles for an elusive playoff berth. The Storm is tied for the eighth and final spot with the Chicago Sky. These sides have played twice in 2017, with the Lynx taking both decisions. Breanna Stewart put together a 24-point, seven-rebound stat line in the last meeting on July 30. Jewell Loyd had one of her best offensive games of the season in the July 30 loss, getting 26 points and five assists with no turnovers. Sue Bird is averaging seven assists per game against the Lynx in two games this season. Bird is a mere 25 assists behind Ticha Penicheiro for the WNBA’s all-time record for assists.
Seattle has several players near the top of statistical leaderboards for the 2017 campaign. Stewart is third in the league at 20.4 points per game, just a tick behind Wednesday’s opponent Sylvia Fowles. Bird’s 6.5 assists is the third-highest per game average in the league; Crystal Langhorne is making 66.8 percent of her field goals, ranking second in the WNBA.
In Saturday’s win in Phoenix, three-point shooting carried the load for Seattle’s offense. The Storm drilled 10-for-20 shots beyond the arc, including a 3-for-4 clip from Loyd. Six players cashed in a three during the 98-89 victory. While doing most of her work in the painted area, Langhorne pieced together arguably her most complete game of the season. The steady veteran post player had 19 points (8-for-9), six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
AT A GLANCE: LYNX
Minnesota has blitzed through its 2017 schedule, losing just four times in 25 chances. However, the Lynx are just 2-2 in their last four outings. On Aug. 11, the team fell to Los Angeles in a WNBA Finals rematch, just days after being upset on the road by the Indiana Fever.
Fowles and Moore form one of the most formidable 1-2 punches in the game. While Fowles averages over 20 points and 10 rebounds playing inside, Moore’s 16.8 points per game is a product of both inside and outside play. She has taken 114 three pointers this season (4.65 per game) and made 38.6 percent of them. The Lynx also get 11 points a game from both Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson, the other two Minnesota members to make the Western Conference All-Star team.
Defense is the hallmark of Minnesota’s dominance. Anchored by Fowles in the middle, the team concedes just 75.8 points per game, the lowest total in the league. The Lynx force opponents into 15.8 turnovers per game, which is also the best in the league. Controlling the boards has been another key to head coach Cheryl Reeve’s team’s success. Minnesota allows its enemies to snag just 22 defensive rebounds every time they hit the floor, which is the lowest opponent average of any WNBA team.
The Storm whirls into Wednesday’s game with a 28-37 ledger in 65 games with Minnesota. Home has been a kinder venue than playing in Minnesota, as the Storm is 20-12 at KeyArena over 17 years of battle.
Seattle scores 79.5 points per contest against the 2017 Lynx. Minnesota’s offense has had less trouble getting the ball in the hoop. The first-place Lynx have scored 100 and 93 points, respectively, in the two games it has shared the floor with Seattle this year. This is the third and final time this season that the Storm and Lynx will dance with each other. A win for the home team would snap a six-game skid against Minnesota and earn the first positive result against the Lynx since September 11, 2015.
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