Storm

Storm vs Mystics Preview: The Duel of Champions

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The Seattle Storm and the Washington Mystics will face off in a three-game series during the 2022 WNBA playoffs. The winner of this matchup will play the winner of the Las Vegas-Phoenix series. Both teams have significant similarities and several key matchups in the series between the Storm and Mystics, which should be very competitive.

A Star-Studded, Thunderstruck Matchup

Both teams have three key players who anchor their performance. For Seattle, it’s Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird, and Jewell Loyd. For Washington, their trio is Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud, and Ariel Atkins. Both these trios similarly impact their team.

Former MVPs Stewart and Delle Donne will battle for their teams in this much-anticipated matchup. Stewart averaged a league-high 21.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game for the Storm, while Delle Donne averaged 17.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 0.5 steals per game for the Mystics. Although Cloud and Bird play the same point guard position, Cloud is a slightly better defender by the eye test.

For Washington, Cloud averaged 10.7 points, a league-high 7.0 assists, and 1.0 steals per game while Seattle’s Bird averaged 7.8 points, 6.0 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. The best defensive guards for each team are Loyd and Atkins. In this series, they’ll try to shut each other down.

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The other matchups are similar and just as enticing. Alysha Clark for Washington and Gabby Williams for Seattle are both defensive stalwarts who help their teams create their offense. During the season, Clark averages 1.0 steals and 4.5 rebounds for the Mystics while Williams stands at 1.5 steals and 5.0 rebounds for the Storm.

Both teams also have young centers on their respective sides. Seattle’s Ezi Magbegor has averaged 9.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game while Shakira Austin has averaged 8.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks per game for Washington. Austin is 22 years old and starting for the Mystics in her rookie season, while Magbegor is 23 years old and in her third year with the Storm.

Old Friends Make For New Foes

This matchup has multiple reunions amongst each other for each team. The Mystics have Clark and Evina Westbrook who both spent time with Seattle. Westbrook didn’t make the team after being drafted by the Storm and Clark spent nine seasons there, winning two championships.

When they played the Mystics in June, Clark spoke about her start happening in Seattle and how it affects her journey. “There’s too many life lessons to list all that I’ve learned from here. Seattle was a huge part of who I am as a person, who I am as a player. That’s why it’ll always feel like home to me.” There will be emotional nostalgia among Storm fans watching Clark play against them when they spent many years watching Clark help them win those titles.

Another reunion taking place is Storm center Tina Charles playing against the Mystics. Charles played for them last year; that was her only season with the team. Having bounced around the league lately, Charles has tried to find a championship after being traded from New York to Washington.

After they went 12-20 last season, Charles was no longer interested in staying with the Mystics and signed with Phoenix. She now finds herself playing against her former squad in another pursuit of a championship. Charles has shown she doesn’t take winning for granted. In a postgame press conference after their win against Washington, she gets emotional after learning they clinched a playoff berth.

Since Charles is on the right track to winning a championship, she will be extra motivated to leave a nasty taste in her former team’s mouth. Charles with the Mystics last season averaged a league-high 23.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. On the Storm, she averaged 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.

Why Washington Can’t Weather The Storm

This first-round matchup will be a battle. While both teams play very similar games, one side will have the advantage if others step up for them. For the Storm, players like Charles and Stephanie Talbot are appealing as the difference makers in this matchup. With Charles’ offensive dominance since joining the starting lineup, this veteran group will look to bring their chemistry to the postseason.

Talbot, a forward from Australia, appeals as the other key difference-maker that gives Seattle the edge in this series. In the last two months, Talbot has averaged 4.9 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, and she shot an average of 52.7% from the three-point line. When deciding the outcome of this competitive series, Charles and Talbot could be the biggest influence in the deciding outcome.

Another deciding factor for the Storm is guard Epiphanny Prince. Like Talbot, she comes off the bench whenever Loyd is subbed out of a game. For the season, Prince averaged 3.9 points and 1.8 assists per game and she shot 35.6% from beyond the three-point arc. A 34-year-old veteran, Prince brings that presence to a young bench unit hoping to make a difference.

Her backcourt teammate off the bench, Briann January, also brings her veteran presence and shooting to a unit in need of it to have the edge over Washington, along with her always stellar defense. January averaged 3.7 points and 2.4 assists per game, and she shot 31.1% from behind the three-point arc this season subbing in for Bird.

The Seattle Storm tip-off the 2022 WNBA playoffs on August 18th at home in game 1 at 7 PM Pacific Standard Time on ESPN 2.

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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