More practice time allowing Storm to hold out slim WNBA playoff hopes
The benefits of finally having more practice time after the all-star break has allowed the Storm to keep faint playoff hopes alive heading into the final two games of the regular season.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Storm @ Sparks, 7:30 p.m., NBA TV
Practice. Yes, the Storm is talking about practice.
Seattle started the season playing 10 of its first 13 games on the road, a stretch in which the team only practiced twice, according to Storm coach Brian Agler. The team went 5-8 to start the season.
Since returning from the all-star break on July 20, the Storm has practiced nearly as many times (seven) as it has played games (eight). And despite Seattle going on a seven-game losing streak to end July, with five of those games coming after the all-star break, the team finally had time to correct mistakes and build chemistry in practice.
The benefit is showing in a three-game winning streak heading into Friday’s road game against Los Angeles that has kept Seattle’s faint playoff hopes alive.
“The hardest part of the season, you can’t get it back,” said forward Camille Little of the first 13 games. “The chemistry and all of the stuff that goes into the first 10 games of building a season, for it to be on the road, it (stinks). We can’t control it. We tried to do the best we could, and it’s frustrating. But even through all of that, we still have an opportunity.”
Currently fifth in the Western Conference standings, Seattle (12-20) will know by the 7:30 p.m. tip in Los Angeles whether the postseason is possible.
San Antonio hosts Minnesota at 5 p.m. Friday. The Storm needs the Stars (14-18) to lose their final two games and the Storm has to win its final two to create a tie for the fourth and final postseason berth in the Western Conference. Seattle would win the tiebreaker by taking the regular-season series against San Antonio, 3-1.
On Tuesday, Phoenix (27-5) won the West and top overall seed in the playoffs. L.A. (15-17) clinched a berth by beating Minnesota (24-8) on Tuesday. With two wins, the Sparks could lock up the No. 3 seed. The Stars own the head-to-head tiebreaker.
If Seattle reaches the playoffs, it would be a WNBA-record 11th consecutive berth. Regardless, the Storm will finish with the third-worst record in franchise history and second losing season in coach Brian Agler’s seven-year tenure.
“We had a couple days off to rest and came back (Wednesday) to get ready for L.A.,” said Agler, whose team is 0-4 against the Sparks this season. “We’re just (going to) try to go down there and keep improving and play good basketball.”