The Seattle Storm will have the WNBA’s top scorer, leading playmaker, best road record and the momentum from three straight wins in their corner when they visit the Atlanta Dream on Friday at McCamish Pavilion on the campus of Georgia Tech University.
Don’t expect Seattle to slow down, even when facing the Dream’s balanced scoring and a hostile road atmosphere.
The Storm head south to Atlanta after a 77-62 win on the road against New York on Tuesday as Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd scored 21 points each to pace Seattle.
Seattle (13-5) held the Liberty to just 38.2 percent shooting leading and only 62 points, a season low for a Storm opponent. Seattle is now 5-2 on the road, continuing to add to its best road start in franchise history.
Stewart, the league’s leading scorer who came into the night averaging 21.9 points, also grabbed eight rebounds and nabbed three steals, tying a season high. Loyd eclipsed the 20-point mark for the seventh time in 2018.
Natasha Howard posted 13 points and Sue Bird dished out a season high-tying 11 assists. Bird has now recorded nine or more assists in five straight games, accumulating a total of 50 in those games. The Storm had 25 assists on their 30 field goals.
“Our offense lends to making the right pass at the right time,” Bird said. “That’s really all that I do. I’m not out there necessarily breaking down the defense and making the exciting pass every time.”
In a game dominated by defense, Seattle coach Dan Hughes felt the key to his team’s performance was how his team defended in the paint.
“(New York) is very post-oriented, and I thought our post defense, and our ability to use a team approach on it, really helped,” said Hughes.
The Dream return home after a dramatic 87-83 road win over Indiana on Sunday in which Brittney Sykes led Atlanta with 20 points and seven assists. Tiffany Hayes added 19 points and Angel McCoughtry scored 15 for the Dream.
Hayes’ running jumper with 26.2 seconds remaining and two free throws with 9.1 to play clinched the victory for Atlanta (8-8), just its second win in its past six games. The Dream shot 50 percent from the field and outrebounded Indiana.
The Dream has played five of its last six games on the road. Friday’s contest with Seattle is the first of a two-game homestand and seven games on their home court in July.
McCoughtry, who took a year off from the WNBA last year to rest, said she’s still getting used to the day-to-day grind again and the extensive travel. Unlike NBA teams, WNBA franchises don’t charter planes because of the cost.
“It definitely is a lot tougher than I remember,” McCoughtry said. “More games in a shorter period of time, but that’s life in the WNBA.”
Atlanta beat the Storm in Seattle 67-64 on June 10 in Seattle. The two teams will play for the third and final time of the year on July 22 in the Pacific Northwest. The Dream own a 12-11 all-time edge over Seattle and have won eight of the 11 games played in Atlanta.