The Atlanta Dream could easily have beaten the Seattle Storm by more than the 70-53 final margin in today's game at Phillips Arena.
The Storm never really solved their turnover problem from the first half, finishing with 27 turnovers for the game. Yet while the turnovers were an obvious problem in their presence, offensive rebounding was just as big a problem in its absence.
Any time a guard - Katie Smith - comes off the bench to lead the team with six rebounds, it's reasonable to assume that something went terribly wrong.
The Storm didn't even get an offensive rebound until guard Tanisha Wright rebounded a Swin Cash miss with 7:55 left in the fourth quarter with the Dream already up 16 points. The Storm only finished with two offensive rebounds to the Dream's 11, which points to one of the most significant advantages the Dream established early and exploited often.
Dream posts Erika de Souza and Sancho Lyttle tied for a game-high seven rebounds, with de Souza adding 13 points. Although forward Angel McCoughtry led the Dream with a game-high 17 points, it was the rugged play in the post that led to the Dream's dominance on the boards and turnovers on numerous occasions.
With starting guards Sue Bird and Tanisha Wright combining for six points, four assists, and 12 turnovers the Storm were not able to score high percentage shots on the inside, create scoring opportunities for each other, or get consistent scoring from the perimeter. Swin Cash led the Storm in scoring with 16 points, often making the same gritty individual plays that so often catalyze runs. But today, the Storm were simply overmatched in the post for most of the game with every shot contested and players struggling to hold post position to make for clean entry passes.
The Dream definitely deserve ample credit for their defensive effort, for the rebounding dominance if nothing else. But without taking anything away from the Dream, the Storm arguably had their worst performance of the season. The boxscore and statistics certainly support that to some extent, but the way the Storm were outhustled on the boards, rattled by the Dream's defense, and never really found any sort of rhythm makes it a tough one to swallow.
On top of that, with the playoffs drawing near, only a half-game separating second and fourth, and Candace Parker expected to return soon for the fifth place Los Angeles Sparks, this type of performance is disappointing even if it came on the road. With the loss, the Storm fall to 12-9 and from tied for second place down to fourth. With the Phoenix Mercury also in action today, the Storm's standing could change again by this evening.