Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Bird remains heart, soul of champion Storm | Sports Columns

Storm forward Breanna Stewart is all smiles during warmups before the Seattle Storm take on the Washington Mystics for game two of the WNBA Finals at Key Arena in Seattle Sunday Storm sweep Mystics, win third WNBA title
Edward Snyder | 14 September, 2018, 04:56

The Seattle Storm clinched the 2018 WNBA championship on Wednesday, completing the sweep of the Washington Mystics with a 98-82 victory. But a crucial injury to their best player at the worst time turned a promising playoff run - which included a first-ever trip to the WNBA Finals - into a slog and a three-game sweep at the hands of the Seattle Storm.

In addition to Stewie's impressive stats, forward Natasha Howard hit a career-high 29 points and 14 rebounds.

Sue Bird, the league's oldest player at 37, is the only holdover Seattle's championship teams in 2010 and 2004.

Mystics star and former league MVP Elena Delle Donne led Washington with 23 points, shooting 9-of-18 from the field. Kristi Toliver had 22 points. In hopes of lighting a fire under his team, head coach Mike Thibault verbally assaulted an official before heading to the locker room for intermission, which earned him a technical foul.

The Mystics began the season picked to finish eighth in the Associated Press preseason poll. Bird said. "That's when I knew it was over". Washington already has staved off elimination on three occasions this postseason: The Mystics routed Los Angeles in a single-elimination second-round matchup at home; they won Game 4 at home in the semifinals; and then they won on the road in a squeaker over Atlanta in Game 5 to advance to the WNBA Finals.




"It doesn't feel real yet, honestly", she said. "We have seen so much growth in our fanbase in the last two years", Delle Donne said. We feel like we've got a lot of young, great talent, and obviously this isn't how we wanted it to end, but it's an experience that we can grow from. There is no doubt in the back of my mind that the Washington Mystics will be back next year contending for a championship and now that rookies like Ariel Atkins have playoff experience, the Mystics now know what it takes to get back to the promise land. She won four national championships with the Huskies, Olympic gold in 2016, and world championship gold in 2014 - all on teams coached by Geno Auriemma.

Howard was a deep reserve for Minnesota during the Lynx's title run previous year, averaging 1.1 points and 0.9 points. "Now I can go to the bar, order her everything she needs". "I don't know if it was putting us seventh or eighth, I can't remember, and our team took a look at that and said, hell, no".

"The fans did a really good job of getting behind us throughout this run".

The Seattle Storm know their 2-0 lead over the Washington Mystics in the best-of-five WNBA Finals is more precarious than it appears. She detailed little moments along the way of their 2018 season, the things she said she will miss most this fall and winter when everyone goes their separate ways.

Lost in all of that Game 5 commotion was Stewart's strong performance, something that Bird said happens too often.

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