In the WNBA's new playoff format, winning Game 1 takes on enormous significance for the higher seed -- lose the first game in a best-of-three series and suddenly you're behind the eight ball for Game 2 on the road.
So even after finishing the regular season with a record-tying 28 wins, Seattle Storm coach Brian Agler's focus on winning tonight (8 pm PST at KeyArena on ESPN2) is not merely an extension of his season-long "tunnel vision". Making sure they get off to a good start in the playoffs is the best way to ensure that the Storm's outstanding regular season doesn't go to waste quickly in the post-season.
"The way the series is set up this year 1-1-1 where before it was 1-2 and the first game of the series is extremely important," said Agler. "It' not a do or die situation but it can really impact the outcome of a short series in a three game series."
After the Sparks played the Storm close on Saturday -- the Storm pulled out a 76-75 win on a shot by Tanisha Wright -- coming in focused and prepared will be a necessity.
Those regular season records won't mean a whole lot when the ball tips tonight.
For more to get you ready for the playoffs:
Seattle Storm WNBA Playoff Push: The Quest For A Title Begins
The Universal Appeal of Chanting "Beat-L-A!"
StormBasketball.com: Around the Web - Storm playoff previews
What The Storm Learned About The Sparks On Saturday: 'You’re Seeing More Of A Complete Team'
Five Reasons Why Now Is The Time To Give The Seattle Storm A Chance