The Seattle Storm's (11-8) first meeting against the Connecticut Sun (12-6) pretty much illustrates how difficult a challenge they are, even with the added benefit of playing in KeyArena.
In a 75-70 loss in Conecticut that saw the Storm get down by as many as 19 points before an extended surge, All-Star center Tina Charles did a little bit of everything one could expect from a center in scoring 20 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists. Even with Storm center Ashley Robinson's significant improvement this season, facing Charles presents a problem that makes 2010 MVP Lauren Jackson's absence most strongly felt.
Yet perhaps more significant for the Sun is their improved play on the perimeter. Third-year point guard Renee Montgomery has blossomed into an All-Star reserve and is arguably one of the top point guards in the league this season. Far more of a scorer than the league's other top point guards, Montgomery's quickness from the point and ability to get to the free throw line make her extremely difficult to guard with teams also forced to pay attention to Charles inside. With veteran guard (and ESPN analyst) Kara Lawson shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc, the Sun can pose a challenge when they're clicking on all cylinders.
But as the Storm's 7-1 record at KeyArena suggests, their defense at home this season has been stifling, most recently holding the rival San Antonio Silver Stars to 29.4 percent shooting in the third quarter to hold off a run in Tuesday's 78-64 win.
After the Silver Stars traveled to Minnesota and lost a thriller to the Lynx last night, the Storm have an opportunity to move into sole possession of second place by a half game tonight with a win.