Having scored a double-double on the Seattle Storm in their first meeting, Connecticut Sun center Tina Charles will obviously be the focal point of the defense tonight.
However, as Kevin Pelton of StormBasketball.com described in his Insider Preview, the Sun's recent success on the road was triggered at least partially by a lineup change on the perimeter.
The Connecticut surge started with a change in the team's starting five. Rookie Danielle McCray moved into the lineup at small forward, settling what had been a rotating spot alongside Kalana Greene. McCray, a 2010 first-round pick who did not join the team last season while recovering from a torn ACL, has averaged 10.1 points as a starter and provides floor spacing with her 40 percent-plus shooting from beyond the arc.
The Sun's rotation is more settled now, with Kara Lawson in the familiar role of sixth woman.
Three keys to the game:
- Find a way to close out on 3-point shooters: With a near-40 percent 3-point shooter likely to be on the floor at all times surrounding Charles, it's imperative that the Storm identify shooters quickly as their rotating within their defensive scheme. In the first meeting between the two teams, the Sun burned the Storm for 43.8 percent 3-point shooting while the Storm were still mired in a slump and shot only 3-for-21.
- Avoid turnovers: The Sun don't necessarily thrive on scoring points off turnovers, but the Storm don't need to give them the opportunity with Charles already dominant in half court sets. The Storm committed 17 turnovers against the Sun, 16 of which came in the first three quarters. Needless to say, taking better care of the ball helped them considerably down the stretch compared to the first three quarters of play.
- Attack the basket, avoid settling for jumpers: This is also an issue every game for the Storm, but it might be particularly relevant tonight with Charles' presence in the paint. The Sun rebound well on the defensive end to shut down second chance opportunities and Charles takes up space in the paint. But the Sun actually allow an above-average 35.67 points in the paint so as Swin Cash showed in the first meeting with her 12-for-12 free throw shooting, there are scoring opportunities available if the Storm remain persistent about attacking the basket instead of settling for long jumpers.