By no means is the Seattle Storm's (7-5) game against the Minnesota Lynx (8-4) a "make or break" game, so to speak.
But with three games separating first and fifth place in the Western Conference, tonight's game is significant as an opportunity for the Seattle Storm to get back into the race for second place after dropping a tough one in San Antonio on Thursday.
Possibly to the Storm's advantage, the Lynx will be playing the second half of a back-to-back after an 80-70 win in Indiana last night. But that's what makes their depth so important, as described by Kevin Pelton of StormBasketball.com.
STORM: Insider Preview - Storm at Minnesota
Reeve is still working out a rotation that takes advantage of the Lynx's wealth of depth in reserve. The Lynx boasts the former Sixth Woman Award winner in Candice Wiggins, a former All-Star in Charde Houston and two recent top draft picks in rookie Amber Harris and second-year guard Monica Wright. There's not room for all of those players - especially with Jessica Adair and Alexis Hornbuckle also claiming playing time in spurts - but Reeve has been able to manage the minutes of her starters. Brunson plays the most minutes of any of them at 30.1 a night.
However, even with that depth, the last two games lay out a very clear blueprint of how the Storm can win.
Three keys for the Storm:
- Getting high percentage shots: One way that the San Antonio Silver Stars stopped the Storm on Thursday was clogging the paint with outstanding rotations in a player-to-player defensive scheme. The Storm have a tendency to revert to taking quick, low-percentage shots in those situations. Remaining persistent in attacking the basket - and getting to the free throw line - will be key to today's game.
- Containing Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson: As Pelton also described, Brunson has been dominant on the boards this season. But both in the Storm's fourth quarter comeback against the Lynx in their loss and in their win against the Lynx the Storm found ways to minimize Brunson's impact on the boards. Just as the Storm held the Washington Mystics - the league's best offensive rebounding team entering the week - without a second chance point on Tuesday, the Storm have proven that they can rebound with the best of them when their focused. They need that today.
- Minimize turnovers: Both this year and last year, a common theme in the Storm's losses have been turnovers. And moreso than a magic number, it's the type of turnovers they make - at their least fluid moments, they start committing ball handling turnovers and start trying to force passes into tight spots. The Lynx have been playing outstanding defense this season and the Storm have to remain focused and find ways to avoid those turnovers.