Within the first nine seconds of Thursday's inaugural Commissioner’s Cup, Seattle Storm point guard and five-time gold medalist Sue Bird let a three fly that was nothing but net.
Bird set the tone early.
Seattle was on the same page on both ends of the floor as the Storm also worked to push the pace from the jump.
Nobody would’ve guessed that the Storm hadn’t played together in over a month after watching Thursday's dominating performance, defeating Connecticut, 79-57.
Another Storm Olympian, Breanna Stewart, who looked fresh from the start, led the charge for Seattle. Stewart notched 15 points in the first half to help her team take a 46-35 halftime lead.
Seattle then turned it up in the second half to finish the game shooting 50.0 percent as a team.
The league is treating Thursday’s game similar to an All-Star game with the win for Seattle not counting towards their regular season record. All of the individual stats will also not be calculated into the player’s regular season averages.
Throughout the first half of the season each team had 10 "Cup games" -- the first home game and the first road game against each foe in its conference. Those games counted towards the Commissioner's Cup standings.
The Storm really didn’t skip a beat after a month away during the Olympic break.
Players on the winning team each earned at least $30,000. Players on the losing team earned $10,000, and the MVP of the contest earned an additional $5,000.
Stewart was named the game's MVP.
Here are three quick takeaways from the 2021 Commissioner’s Cup:
The Storm Olympians were dialed in
Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd returned from Tokyo just days ago after helping Team USA earn gold.
Stewart and the rest of the Storm Olympians only had one practice together this week before taking on the Sun. Stewart notched 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the first half. She finished with 17 points to lead all scorers. She also pulled down four rebounds in 27 minutes.
The Storm Big 3 didn’t look tired in the slightest after competing in the Olympics just days ago.
Bird and Lyod picked up one quick foul each in the second half, but the two had a nice connection on the other end.
The Storm point guard finished with 10 points, while Loyd recorded 16 points in 24 minutes of action on 6-of-11 shooting.
Bird also notched five assists on the night, including this beauty:
Storm hold Sun to 32.9 percent shooting
While it was another efficient offensive night for the Storm, Seattle also clamped down on the other end.
Seattle forced the Sun to take contested shot after contested shot while packing it in, in the paint to make it difficult on Connecticut’s frontcourt. As a team the Sun shot just 35.9 percent at halftime. The Sun also committed 20 turnovers for the game.
DeWanna Bonner led the way for Connecticut with 11 points. Jonquel Jones added 10 points and 11 rebounds. But the Sun only had three players in double figures.
Seattle’s second unit earns key minutes
The Storm hadn’t played together since July 11 in an 82-75 win over Phoenix.
But with such a complete game and an overall team effort, the Storm second unit saw plenty of time on the court in the fourth quarter after the starters took care of business in the third. Seattle’s bench outscored the Sun bench 28-24.
While the bench gained experience, the Storm's starters earned rest in the final period.
Next up: The Storm will now hit the road for the next week and a half with five games on the road starting in Chicago.
The Storm and Sky are set to tip-off at 1:00p.m. PT Sunday, Aug. 15. Seattle has 11 games remaining in the regular season.