After the Seattle Storm won a two point game over the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday night at KeyArena, it's not as if the three keys to the game have changed very much in two days.
However, there are a few things the Storm can learn from Sunday's win, particularly as both teams continue to adjust to having their star players back. Kevin Pelton of StormBasketball.com notes the chief lesson about the Sparks from Sunday night's contest.
There's the lax defensive team with unpredictable substitution patterns that struggled to put the Tulsa Shock and Washington Mystics away on the road before suffering a costly upset loss to Tulsa at home. Then there's the focused group that rides Candace Parker to success. That group knocked off the Indiana Fever in Parker's second game back.
In other words, we don't really know what Sparks team is going to show up even half-to-half or, as evident in those games Pelton mentioned, minute to minute.
But with their playoff hopes on the line, the Storm have to prepare for the best from the Sparks and we did get a glimpse of that on Sunday.
Three lessons from Sunday night for the Storm
- The Sparks can rebound? The Sparks not only outrebounded the Storm on Sunday night, but they shut them out on the offensive boards in the first half. A lot of that was Parker going to work inside, but point guard Ticha Penicheiro also came up big with 10 rebounds to help keep the Storm down on the offensive end. The Sparks entered Sunday's game allowing the most offensive rebounds in the league, so this was a mildly surprising development at KeyArena.
- The Sparks can defend effectively from a zone: Reminiscent of what opponents did early in the season, the Sparks gave the Storm trouble throughout the game when they utilized a zone defense or more specifically switched between zone and man. The Storm - including Lauren Jackson - fell into the old habit of settling for jumpers against the zone occasionally, despite the fact that patience and moving without the ball did disorient the Sparks on a number of occasions. The Storm have to find a way to remain patient no matter what set the Sparks are in.
Candace Parker is more than capable of carrying a team: It's not clear that the Sparks are better when Parker carries the team, but they surely did play better on Sunday night when Parker was the go-to player down the stretch. What makes her particularly dangerous is that she can both post up and drive from the perimeter to score, which makes matching up with her difficult. Similar to Lauren Jackson, there's not much an opponent can do when she puts her mind to winning a game. The best the Storm can hope for in that situation is to force the Sparks into turnover, especially in the halfcourt, which they're prone to do.