After the Seattle Storm's thrilling comeback victory against he Phoenix Mercury last Tuesday, point guard Sue Bird noted that the reason they were able to maintain the poise to fight back from being down 18 points at halftime was they they'd "basically seen every kind of game".
And for 13 games straight, no matter what kind of game they played or where they played it, the Storm just couldn't seem to lose.
So after yesterday's 72-71 loss to the Minnesota Lynx, it's sort of interesting to see Bird perhaps stay "on message" while simultaneously articulating the other side of that been there, done that narrative.
Storm | Minnesota ends Storm's 13-game winning streak | Seattle Times Newspaper
The Lynx, who had lost five straight, moved a half-game ahead of Los Angeles for the final Western Conference playoff berth.
"We've been doing this all season," said Bird, who had 16 points and 10 assists. "It's something we've talked about. We're good enough not to have to come from behind. And it's tough — on the road, against a team who is fighting for their lives trying to make the playoffs. It was not an easy game for us."
As exciting as the Storm have been, everybody has to lose sometime and perhaps yesterday's loss is less of a surprise than a consequence of living dangerously against a team that had only narrowly lost to the Western Conference juggernaut less than two weeks ago.
Consistent with standard sports reasoning, a late regular season loss could ultimately be a good thing as the team looks to make a deep playoff run.
When NBA TV commentator Dennis Scott asked about ending the record conversation with the loss -- tying for the best start in WNBA history, claiming the best start in Seattle sports history, in the middle of the third-longest winning streak in WNBA history, and still chasing the 1998 Houston Comets for the best start in WNBA history -- Sue Bird smiled and said pretty much what the Storm have been telling media for weeks.
"To be honest, I'm so glad in a way that the record stuff's out of the way," said Bird in the video above. "I know this loss is actually going to pay bigger dividends than any win could've, which is great. Now we can kind of just get back to focusing on the playoffs what we need to do to get home court advantage throughout and on to the next one. We've got Tulsa next and that's what we're focused on."
With the WNBA's pre-season being short and somewhat chaotic with players coming in from their off-seasons overseas and a 34 game season that is a sprint compared to the 82 game marathon of the NBA, it's hard to say that any team -- even the now 22-3 Seattle Storm -- has peaked at this point in the season.
In the crowded Eastern Conference, everybody is still jockeying for position. In the Western Conference, even the 4-22 Tulsa Shock -- the Storm's next opponent are only four games out of the playoffs.
However, the difference between the Storm and everybody else is that while many teams are still trying to find themselves, the Storm can focus on refining who they are. That's what got them to 22-3 and that's why they've gotten off to a record-breaking start. It certainly doesn't guarantee success, but it might mean a little bit more security in pressure situations that inevitably come up during the playoffs.
A loss is just one more kind of game to build on.
For a statistical summary of the game, visit SBN's Swish Appeal.