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Seattle Storm Title Chase: Things Have 'Changed A Lot' Since Regular Season Series With The Dream

The Seattle Storm went back to practice on Tuesday and Wednesday to prepare for the WNBA Finals and by forward Swin Cash's account things are no different now than they've been all season.

"Sometimes you worry about the drop off -- you come off a high for your first practice back," said Cash. "But I thought we did an excellent job yesterday of really coming in focused -- a lot of energy -- and I was happy with our efforts."

That thrilling Western Conference Finals victory that brought the Storm one step closer to the WNBA title was pretty much a thing of the past after they got off the plane and past the throng of fans.

"It's over," said forward Camille Little, who was traded to Storm in 2008 from the Atlanta Dream. "You can't let it linger. It's over with now. That game is not going to do anything for us in the next series. So we're happy we're here, but we still have things to take care of."

Moving forward, the focus remains pretty much the same as it has been all season -- on themselves and what they can do to improve.

"You have to stay true to what it is you do," said Cash, who won two championships with Detroit. "You can't get into a panic mode where you start scrapping the whole mold and doing other things. I think you just get better at what you do well and you try to fix any other problems or weaknesses you may be having."

Nevertheless, Dream guard Angel McCoughtry created a bit of a buzz after her WNBA playoff record 42 points against the New York Liberty in the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday. But the Dream's strength all season long -- in addition to having a rising star on the wing -- has been the rebounding presence of 6'5" Erika de Souza and 6'4" Sancho Lyttle this season.

"They're big but they have their advantages and we have ours," said Little, who was once a teammate of de Souza and Lyttle. "So if they're bigger posts, we're probably quicker, smaller posts. At the same time, it's going to be a task to box 'em out on both ends of the floor. So I think both teams are going to try to do what's best for them and we'll try to do what's best for us too."

Although Agler said he considers their head-to-head meetings with the Dream as useful to look at these sort of matchups, he isn't putting much stock in the outcomes.

"I think both teams have changed a lot since the very first meeting," said Agler. "The meeting down there was sort of a strange game from the standpoint of they jumped on us quick and I think they got -- when we subbed in -- I think they got disinterested a little bit and didn't play as well as they're capable of playing. And we know they're a much better team than what we saw down there in Atlanta."

For more on the Storm's preparations for the WNBA Finals: How Brian Agler Is Scouting The Dream: Watching Film Against A Similar Opponent 

Summaries of Storm-Dream regular season head-to-head matchups (from SBN's Swish Appeal):

Game 2 (Atlanta): Storm 80, Dream 70

Statistical summary: Storm outshot the Dream to secure homecourt advantage

Key stat: effective field goal percentage

This has happened before -- a team has beaten the Storm in every significant way except for shooting. As much as the Storm pride themselves on defense, this was a bit of a gift from the Dream who simply couldn't hit a shot. In the Storm's fourth quarter comeback, the Storm outshot the Dream with an effective field goal percentage of 50% to 29.41% while committing not one turnover and turning around the offensive rebounding situation.

Again, it wasn't the ideal way to get a win, but if you can rest the regulars and still pull out a fourth quarter win, that's obviously a good thing.


Game 1 (Seattle): Storm 90, Dream 72

Why the Dream’s loss to the Storm means less than their response against the Sky

It was the Dream's fourth game on an early season Western Conference road trip and both coaches cited defense and rebounding as the keys to the game. Defensively, the Dream struggled with forward Lauren Jackson raining threes on them every time they seemed to be getting close and Storm perimeter players hitting the gaps. Offensively, league-leading scorer McCoughtry missed her fist seven shots. Then post players Sancho Lyttle and Erika de Souza ended up sitting out for long stretches of the game with foul trouble.

"That didn't hurt us any," said Storm coach Brian Agler about Atlanta's early foul trouble, successfully maintaining a straight face. "That did not hurt us."

Meadors noted prior to the game that Lyttle and de Souza were part of the team's returning core that made them so successful, particularly on the offensive boards. So losing them did hurt the Dream a bit.

"I gotta have them in the game and they can't foul," said Meadors after the loss. "They were just not aggressive enough in there tonight. But looking ahead, we've got Sylvia Fowles and whoever else is on their team against Chicago on Friday night."

Ultimately, it was just a perfect storm of bad circumstances for the Dream. That's not to take anything away from the Storm, who obviously played good enough defense to hold the hot Dream to 35.6% shooting.