MVP Breanna Stewart leads Storm into battle vs. Mystics
The fourth-seeded Seattle Storm welcome the No. 5 seed Washington Mystics for Game 1 of their WNBA playoff series on Thursday night.
Seattle and Washington closed the regular season with matching records, but the Storm's two wins over the Mystics earned them home-court advantage for the best-of-three series.
Seattle won the first meeting on June 23, 85-71, but the two subsequent meetings were decided by five points: 82-77 in Seattle's favor on July 30, and 78-75 for Washington on July 31.
The Mystics' win on July 31 was part of a 4-2 finish to their regular season, which also included a victory over the top-seeded Las Vegas Aces. While Washington built some momentum heading into the postseason, they received some potentially good news from an otherwise worrying development.
Guard Natasha Cloud -- boasting career-best season averages of 10.7 points and 7.0 assists per game -- sustained an apparent knee injury in Sunday's regular-season finale against Indiana. However, Mystics coach Mike Thibault told reporters Tuesday that Cloud participated in "about two-thirds" of the day's practice.
"(It was a) lot more than we thought she might," Thibault said. "We were going to try to rest or a little bit more but she felt good enough to do more, so she is good to go."
Cloud recorded an 11-point, 10-assist double-double in Washington's last meeting with Seattle, helping the Mystics to weather a 23-point performance from the Storm's Breanna Stewart.
Stewart was revealed as the league's 2022 Most Valuable Player on Monday -- the second such honor of her career (2018) -- after averaging an WNBA-best 21.8 points per game. Stewart posted double-doubles in three of the regular season's final four games and scored 33-plus twice in the month of August.
"Whenever Stewie's on the floor, we have a chance," Seattle coach Noelle Quinn said via the Seattle Times. "She's been very hungry, very consistent for us. We want her to carry us, in a way."
--Field Level Media
Updated August 17, 2022