Seattle, WA – The Seattle Storm opened up their 2022 campaign, Sue Bird’s swan song, with an emphatic 97-74 win over the Minnesota Lynx. The Storm played like an early season team would in the first half of this contest, with numerous turnovers and fouls.
Lynx starters Aerial Powers and Sylvia Fowles lead the way for Minnesota in the first half, totaling 26 of the teams 41 points. That combo was held to just four points in the second half as Seattle’s defense looked suffocating.
After a first half where they allowed several open looks from behind the arc and put up 20 points in the paint, Seattle’s defense was stifling in the second half. The Storm held the Lynx to 19% from beyond the arc, and 39.2% from the field on the night. The defense that Seattle played in the third quarter sparked a big run for the Storm, with the lead reaching 30 points at a period of time.
Seattle saw Aerial Powers and Sylvia Fowles go off in the first half, and made sure they didn’t have their way after that.
New additions Gabby Williams and Briann January two players brought in to help Seattle defensively, made several athletic plays. January would lead the team in +/-, with 21. Seattle guard Jewell Loyd spoke about how the team’s depth impacted the win.
“I think it’s very evident on the depths impact of our team. Jantel is an amazing screener, her ability to pick and pop, even her presence down low… same thing with Gabby and Briann January. Their presence is always there, and they’re so versatile. We’re able to push the pace with both of them. They’ve been amazing… they’re not done yet, and I think that they’re really gonna excel here in Seattle,” Loyd would remark regarding her new teammates.
This win could be considered a full team performance from Seattle for several reasons. Every player that was active for the Storm scored, the Storm’s big three and bench seemingly contributed an equal amount, and everybody was active defensively.
Seattle fed off of the energy in the building as well, as 12,904 people poured into Climate Pledge Arena for this matchup. The crowd was ready to go from the start, and they never seemed to get quiet. Simply put, the Storm playing in Seattle is how it should always have been. The time the team spent playing at the University of Washington and Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett was fine, but it was hard for most of the fanbase to be present. Storm head coach Noelle Quinn and forward Breanna Stewart spoke about the factor that the crowd played in the win.
“There was an electricity. In Key Arena, it was intimate with the way that it was built, and even though it’s different now it didn’t feel like the fans were far away, it still felt intimate,” Noelle Quinn reflected in response to how different the arena felt compared to when it was Key Arena.
“The fans stood out. I think that’s what we’ve been missing. In Seattle, we haven’t been here since 2018. You know when we’re going on a run when it’s three pointer, three pointer, three pointer and the place is rocking. Then the other team has to call timeout, and they aren’t able to get what they want,” Stewart stated.
This Storm team certainly does have depth on this year’s roster, and an obvious veteran presence. Seattle has their sights set on sending Sue Bird out with a fifth and final title, and additionally look to defend their commissioners cup from last season. There is no doubt that this is a title or bust season for Seattle, and the potential that they showed in this game points to positive chances for that to happen. If Seattle’s depth can consistently play like they did tonight, and the Storm big three is able to remain healthy, Sue Bird will be holding a fifth and final WNBA title.
Seattle’s next matchup comes on the road against the Las Vegas Aces. Tipoff is at 7PM PST inside of Michelob Ultra Arena, and the game will be streamed on ESPN2. Former WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson leads the Aces against Seattle in a 2020 WNBA Finals rematch. The Aces are coming off of a blowout win against the Finals runner up from last year, the Phoenix Mercury.