Having defeated the Phoenix Mercury in the Western Conference Finals earlier today, the Seattle Storm sit in a somewhat odd position.
With the Eastern Conference Finals between the Atlanta Dream and New York Liberty not even beginning until after the Storm’s win, the Storm will not only get a long rest, but also a long look at their WNBA Finals opponent.
But if the Storm said that their five game regular season series against the Mercury meant nothing, then their regular season contests between their potential Eastern Conference opponents might mean less.
The Dream came to KeyArena early in the season at 6-0 before they went downhill. The Storm then traveled to Atlanta focused on resting their starters while the Dream were in the middle of a slump and fighting for a playoff spot. Neither was the team that disposed of the Washington Mystics in the first round in a rout.
Similarly, the Storm played the Liberty early in the season before they went on their second-half win streak that catapulted them to the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
So the Storm will probably rely heavily on more recent game film, such as the Eastern Conference Finals in progress. But which team might be the most favorable WNBA Finals opponent?
The Atlanta Dream rely heavily on the offensive rebounding and second chance points of their post players, Erika de Souza and Sancho Lyttle, as well as the athleticism on the wing of Angel McCoughtry.
The New York Liberty are led by former Phoenix Mercury guard Cappie Pondexter and she has the ability to carry a team with jumpshots or off the drive. She’s the type of player that you don’t exactly stop. At their best, Pondexter’s drives set up three pointers for wing Nicole Powell and point guard Leilani Mitchell, who led the team in three point shooting.
Given the teams’ relative strengths, Atlanta is probably the better matchup for the Storm. The Storm are a very strong rebounding team and if Atlanta isn’t hitting from the perimeter, the Storm defense could quite easily pack it in and work to keep the Dream posts off the boards. Defensively, Atlanta would have a difficult time defending all three of Sue Bird, Swin Cash, and Tanisha Wright without sacrificing something offensively. The type of grinding, physical, scrappy game that the Dream play is the kind of game that the Storm have won plenty of and have the personnel to match.
With New York, it’s really a matter of just not wanting to see Cappie Pondexter.
For more on the two teams, check out the Eastern Conference Finals preview at SBN’s Swish Appeal .
To follow the Liberty vs. Dream game (already in progress), check out Swish Appeal’s game thread.