The number one team in the WNBA, the Seattle Storm (19-3), are playoff ready, there’s no doubt about that.
Even without their stars, Sue Bird (knee) and Breanna Stewart (ankle) Friday night, the Storm were able to dismantle the league’s number 5 seed Phoenix Mercury.
With a final score of 83-60, the Storm showcased their defense in their second-to-last regular season game.
Bird coached from the sideline Friday night after re-injuring her knee following a collision with Dallas Wings rookie, and former Oregon Duck, forward Satou Sabally Wednesday night.
With Bird out, Seattle looked to its young PG Jordin Canada.
Canada finished with 13 points and four assists on the night.
She also got it done on the defensive end.
As the Storm showed their great balanced attack against the Mercury, Seattle jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead and continued to build on it, finishing with a 22-14 first quarter advantage.
All nine Storm players that saw the court in the first half knocked down at least one bucket by halftime.
At the break, Seattle took a commanding 50-26 lead and never looked back.
Shutting down Mercury stars Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith was a big key to Seattle's success. Taurasi and Diggins-Smith were a combined 1-of-9 from the floor in their limited minutes.
“I thought our players really executed with what we wanted to do with both of those players,” Seattle coach Gary Kloppenburg said at halftime during the CBS Network broadcast.
Even without Bird, the Storm still had great ball movement, finishing with 22 assists.
Storm shooting guard Jewell Loyd, who scored 10 points and dished out five assists, described the key to their success.
And remember that stifling defense?
Seattle held Phoenix to 24.2 percent shooting from the field.
Loyd explained that it all starts with their defensive anchor:
“When you’re playing with Alysha Clark -- she sets the tone for us. She doesn't get enough credit for what she does. She does it every year and that’s why, in our eyes, she’s the Defensive Player of the Year.”
The Storm will conclude the 2020 regular season on Sunday in a matinee game against the No. 2 seed Las Vegas Aces.
Seattle is now 19-3 on the season, while riding a seven-game winning streak. It’s apparent the No. 1 team in the WNBA is playing its best basketball heading into the postseason.
To quote Coach Kloppenburg, now it’s all about health.