The Seattle Storm need to find a way to succeed on the road if they’re going to avoid a substantial early hole.
Their stretch of 10 road games in their first 13 continues Friday night against the Atlanta Dream, who have dominated the teams’ regular-season contests since meeting in the 2010 WNBA Finals.
The Storm (1-4) are nearing the midway point of the most road-heavy start to a season in WNBA history. The team has already had a pair of back-to-back sets included in the travel, for which WNBA teams do not charter flights like other professional leagues.
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"It definitely is the hardest start of the season we’ve ever had," point guard Sue Bird said. "Being on the road at the beginning is tough, not to mention the back-to-backs."
Seattle is likely holding off on hitting the panic button after playing nine of 13 on the road in 2013 and finding its way into the playoffs following a 5-8 start. In 2012, the Storm played seven of nine on the road and started 2-7 before recovering for a postseason spot.
"The one plus is that you bond on the road because you’re forced to be around each other for a long period of time," Seattle coach Brian Agler said. "There aren’t as many distractions."
Their latest road date was especially disappointing as the Storm fell 70-64 Tuesday in New York after leading by eight with three minutes to play.
Bird scored 17 of her season-high 21 points in the first half while Crystal Langhorne added 13 points and 15 rebounds. The Storm were held to 12 fourth-quarter points as they fell back into shooting troubles that have led them to average just 65.8 points while hitting 38.8 percent from the field.
They now turn their attention to the Dream (2-2), who have won the last three meetings in Atlanta by an average of 14.0 points. They’ve taken five of six overall in the last three seasons since being swept by the Storm in the 2010 finals.
The Dream, though, limp into this meeting off back-to-back losses last weekend, including Sunday’s 82-77 home overtime defeat to Indiana.
Angel McCoughtry, the league’s two-time defending scoring champion, had 19 points after missing Saturday’s loss in Chicago with a shoulder injury.
"I felt good for the most part, but my shoulder is still hurting," McCoughtry said. "They just did the little things a lot better tonight and had more energy late in the game."
Guard Jasmine Thomas scored a season-high 17 points while rookie Shoni Schimmel was held to a season-low four points and eight assists. The Louisville product is averaging 11.3 points and a league-high 9.3 assists.
McCoughtry missed the last meeting with Seattle – a 73-65 loss on July 14 – due to a strained Achilles, but she averaged 23.0 points on 57.5 percent shooting in the previous two matchups.