As the Seattle Storm's leading scorer this season, point guard Sue Bird has had a number of big scoring performances, whether it be over the course of a game, a quarter, or just a game-winning shot.
But her biggest scoring outbursts have surprisingly not come at KeyArena, but at the BOK Center against the Tulsa Shock (3-26).
In the Storm's (17-13) two games at the BOK Center this season, Bird has averaged 25 points per game on 16-for-24 shooting (66.6 percent) as well as shooting 12-for-14 from the free throw line. Of course, that's not exactly bewildering given that the Shock are currently the lowest rated defense in the league this season, but it's an impressive footnote to a MVP-caliber season.
Tonight's game in Tulsa will also mark center Lauren Jackson's first game at the BOK Center since injuring her hip there on June 21. And as if the Shock won't already have their hands full with Bird, Jackson has been even better since her return from injury.
In five games back from injury, Jackson has averaged 15.2 points on 42.9 percent shooting and 1.2 blocks, all well above what she was averaging prior to her injury. But where the Storm might need her to make a particularly strong contribution is on the boards.
In their two recent wins over the Connecticut Sun and Los Angeles Sparks , Tulsa has been solid on the offensive boards when in counted, literally just outhustling their opponents. Leading the Tulsa rebounding effort is forward Tiffany Jackson, who is having a career-year with a team-high 8.2 rebounds and 12 points per game.
Meanwhile, prior the Storm's loss in Los Angeles on Tuesday, they'd struggled to keep opponents off the offensive boards with Jackson getting the first two since her return from injury against the Sparks. Rebounding has not necessarily been the decisive issue for the Storm, but it has been how the Shock have routinely kept themselves in games this season.
Although the Shock are playing for little more than pride at this point, they also have nothing to lose and every reason to want to prevent the Storm from clinching a playoff berth in Tulsa while sweeping the regular season series.