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2022 WNBA Playoffs For Dummies: Seattle Storm Edition

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After a long regular season involving COVID absences, roster changes, and a midseason retirement announcement, the Seattle Storm enter the playoffs ready to duel for a fifth championship. For Seattle, the playoff disappointment last season is a thing of the past. From the playoff format changes to the important players for a championship run, here’s what you need to know for the Storm in the 2022 WNBA Playoffs.

Seattle Is Talkin’ About Playoffs

For the seventh straight season and 17th overall, the Storm gets to experience the playoffs. They clinched a spot with their win against the Mystics on July 30th in a first-round series preview. Seattle enters the playoffs with enough firepower to battle for a championship, in what will be Sue Bird‘s final flight.

The playoff format is different from the last season, which could bode well for the Storm. The eight teams that qualify for the playoffs play in a 3-5-5 series format this season instead of two single elimination rounds leading to the finals. This helps Seattle because they only played one elimination game with Phoenix last season losing in the semifinals. As a series, this matchup could have been different because of Breanna Stewart‘s availability.

Another change to the playoffs is what seeds will be playing in the first round. In the 2021 season, the top two seeds advanced to the semifinals, while the third and fourth seeds advanced to the quarterfinals.  This season all eight teams will play in the first-round quarterfinals. This round will all be a three-game series and the winners will advance to the semifinals.

The Storm will play their quarterfinals against the Washington Mystics in the four-five matchup in a competitive battle. Seattle bested Washington in the regular season winning two of the three meetings they had by a 9.5 average margin of victory. Their loss was their second game of a back-to-back and they fell by 3 points.

They start their title pursuit against the Mystics with two playoff home games on August 18th and August 21st. Once again, Seattle aims to win the championship by entering the playoffs among the top teams.

The Important Pieces For Seattle’s Fifth Title

Within the playoff field, every qualifying team has a duo or trio of stars to help win a title. They anchor the team and are reliable in games. However, while those players are important, a champion is dependent on the others stepping up.

Anchoring the Storm is the trio of Bird, Stewart, and Jewell Loyd. They help with the scoring, but Seattle wins with their defense. They are third in the league in defensive efficiency with a 97.4 rating. This means they allow around 97 points per 100 possessions. Along with Stewart, two players that help with Seattle’s defense are Ezi Magbegor and Gabby Williams.

The impact Williams has on the team is not shown on the stat sheet but is just as significant as the scorers. Williams impacts the game with her stellar defense, even showcasing by getting steals. She averages 1.5 steals per game which helps Seattle create their offense. Williams has had her offensive scoring games this season as well. She scored 23 points on June 19th in their win against New York, and she also scored 21 points on August 9th in a win against Chicago. These 20+ point games show her impact on the offensive end is a bonus for Seattle.

It is possible that Magbegor could be more dangerous in the playoffs because she has been in such a unique situation this season. She now comes off the bench for Tina Charles, who signed with the Storm in June. She is second in blocks with 1.8 per game after leading the league in that category for most of the season. Her youth gives her the ability to improve and gain more playoff experience this season. As Seattle strives for a championship, Magbegor will bring her thunderous defense to terrorize her opponents.

Can The Playoff Field Weather The Storm?

Heading into the postseason, Seattle has been under pressure in previous seasons. Winning championships is the organization’s goal, and they are built for it. This season, however, the league is as competitive as ever. The Storm are contenders, but other teams are built to take them down. Seattle can be beaten by any of the top five teams in Chicago, Las Vegas, Connecticut, or Washington.

Chicago has picked up where they left off after winning the 2021 WNBA championship. They are tied for the best record in the league at 26-10. However, they lost the season series against Seattle, 2-1. Las Vegas sits at 26-10 as well, and they won the season series against Seattle, 3-0. Connecticut has a 25-11 record and finished 3-0 vs the Storm this season. Washington finished with a record of 22-14 and will meet Seattle in the quarterfinals.

For the Storm, Las Vegas and Connecticut pose the biggest threats, but they have questions when it comes to the playoffs. Connecticut has a reputation for not performing well in the postseason despite their great regular season finishes. While Vegas has performed well in the postseason, they could never get past the beast in the WNBA that is the Seattle Storm. If the Storm gets past the Mystics in the first round, they will play Las Vegas in a five-game series. Assuming they pull it out against Vegas, they would play Connecticut or Chicago.

The Storm will have an uphill battle in the playoffs no matter who they play, and they will fly under the radar. But as long as Stewie, Bird, and Loyd are healthy, Seattle can turn their game up when the playoffs arrive.

About Brenden Potts

Brenden is an American writer and Washington State University Sport Management student in Pullman Washington. He has less than a year of writing experience getting started with The Lead. He writes about the Seattle Storm for The Lead.

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