Seattle Storm

Seattle Storm leaning on experience vs. Las Vegas Aces in WNBA Finals

Seattle Storm

The Seattle Storm have a deep roster and years of experience, and they have used both of those aspects of their game to their advantage to reach the 2020 WNBA Finals.

Now after sweeping Minnesota in their semifinals series, the Storm have made the championship round for the second time in three seasons.

And now their streak is on the line.

Seattle has been to the finals three times before and every time the Storm reached the Finals they've won. The Storm were crowned WNBA champs in 2004, 2010, and 2018.

As for their opponent this year, it took the No. 1 seeded Las Vegas Aces five games to beat the Connecticut Sun in their semifinals matchup.

This is the first time the Aces have made the finals after making the move to Las Vegas, but it is the second time in franchise history. The Aces made the championship round in 2008, when the team was located in San Antonio.

Seattle's most recent championship, in 2018, was a dominant sweep of the Washington Mystics, who were making their first Finals appearance.

Looking at the 2018 team to this current team, a lot of the core group for Seattle is still on the 2020 roster.

And Sue Bird is still ballin' out despite dealing with knee injuries and the fact that she’s about to turn 40 later this month.

But as Bird put it, after Thursday’s practice, having an 18-year career in the WNBA has been possible because of her mental game.

My position and how I play -- it allows for longevity. I never really relied on my physical quickness or speed, or size obviously, so as long as I continued to add to my game from a mental perspective, I was always going to be able to stay on the floor, assuming, again, that the physical part stayed with me as well.

Seattle Storm PG Sue Bird

Bird’s body has held up after so many years in the league; however, this shortened season was trying on her as she dealt with a bone bruise in her left knee.

 

The three-time WNBA Champion and 11-time All-Star played in just 11 games for the Storm this season.

She also missed both of the regular season games against the Aces this year.

Storm coach Gary Kloppenburg mentioned that Bird will have “a huge impact” facing the Aces for the first time this season in the Finals.

Her ability to read defenses, to pass the ball -- to find the open man, to be able to stretch the defense out and hit shots.

-- Coach Kloppenburg on why he knows Sue Bird will have a huge impact in the Finals vs. Las Vegas

Now in her third year in the league, backup point guard Jordin Canada has stepped in for Bird over the years and this season was no different.

Canada was on the 2018 team that took home the hardware, but she thinks this year’s squad is better than the roster they had that won the 2018 Title.

Following Thursday’s practice, Canada admitted, “2018 was an awesome year, a great year for us. Last year, we had some ups and downs, but I think this year, towards the end of the season we really started to hit our stride.”

She continued, “I think everything is coming together at the right time, especially in the playoffs where every game matters and so I just think we are clicking at the right time.”

This season, Canada averaged 7.9 points and 5.5 assists while playing 24.2 minutes per game.

Everyone knows their roles. Everyone is bringing their strengths to this team and playing to the best of our ability and that’s all you can ask for going into playoffs.

Backup PG Jordin Canada

Bird and Canada have different playing styles as coach Kloppenburg explained, but there’s no doubt that having such great depth on this roster has been a key to Seattle’s current success.

“It was different,” Kloppenburg said of the two regular season games against Las Vegas with Bird out. “With Jordin we do a really good job of the penetration and kick, we don’t have that outside shooting with her, we have some advantages with her out there, obviously in some areas. But, I think with this particular team, I think, being able to stretch the floor out and have [Sue’s] floor leadership out there -- the ability to come off screens, makes plays, it’s going to be invaluable.”

Having such a veteran group is something Coach Kloppenburg doesn’t take for granted.

“With this group, you’re ahead of the curve just because we’ve been playing in this system for a few years,” Kloppenburg said. “That core group has been together… They’re comfortable at what we’re doing at both ends of the floor.”

The best-of-five series between Seattle and Las Vegas begins Friday at 4pm PST on ESPN2.