Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

LeBron James congratulates Seattle Storm on WNBA title

Isaiah Thomas. Courtesy The Player's Tribune Isaiah Thomas. Courtesy The Player's Tribune
Kristopher Love | 13 September, 2018, 23:31

Prior to taking the court for their final practice before facing the Washington Mystics in Wednesday's Game 3 of the WNBA Finals (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET), one team was constantly referenced among Storm personnel, from coach Dan Hughes to regular-season MVP Breanna Stewart - and it wasn't the Mystics.

Stewart saved her best for last and scored 30 points - a career high for the playoffs - on 11-of-22 shooting, including 4 of 5 three-pointers.

A masked Sue Bird, the oldest player in the league, finished the game with 10 points and 10 assists.

Bird now has her third WNBA 'chip, and her first since 2010.

"You can't be unsuccessful if you're in the Finals", Kristi Toliver said.

The location, George Mason University, marked the third arena Washington has called home this season and the second in the playoffs. 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, on the other hand, didn't have a single player score in double figures, and only had two points off the bench.

Both teams rely heavily on the 3-point shot.

"They clearly were the best team from start to finish, in my opinion", Thibault said.

The Storm got their first taste of life without Bird in the semifinals when she broke her nose and had to sit out the remainder of Game 4 against Phoenix.

Still, Mystics guard Natasha Cloud described her team's situation as "David and Goliath", as no team in WNBA history has come back to win the championship after trailing 2-0 in the Finals.

What Stewart has done the seven years since is no surprise to her.

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt sank a three-pointer with 6:49 left to cut Seattle's 16-point lead to five (72-67). We went through a rebuild a couple of years ago, and who's to say we'd get here this quickly. "I felt more and more uncomfortable as we kept going". "They are going to play that way offensively, they're going to play that way defensively". Rookie Ariel Atkins has been a steady offensive force for the Mystics, averaging 19 points per game in the series, but they will need a lot more from the remaining starting five.

It didn't dim their view of how well 2018 went up until the final round. This should make you feel a little better. "I think everybody knows".

"This is probably going to be one of the defining moments of my career to have played however many years I've been playing, to have won in all these places, but then to do it at the end in such a way that was different from all the others, it's really incredible".