The Seattle Storm have every reason for confidence against the San Antonio Silver Stars tonight.
In addition to the boost that a healthy Lauren Jackson gives them, the Silver Stars simply haven't played well in three meetings against the Storm this season. As Kevin Pelton described on StormBasketball.com, that begins with the Storm shutting down All-Star guard Becky Hammon.
The Storm's defensive effort has started with All-Star guard Becky Hammon, who has had a tough time scoring on defensive stalwart Tanisha Wright and the Storm's help defense. Hammon is averaging 9.0 points against the Storm, as compared to 17.6 against the rest of the league. Part of what the Storm has done a good job of is simply keeping Hammon from getting shot attempts. She's gotten up just 15 shots in the two games at the Key.
So on the one hand, we could say that the Storm just need to keep doing what they've been doing, whether at home or on the road.
But with Jackson back, the Storm might find themselves an additional advantage.
Three keys for the Storm:
- Winning the rebounding battle: The Silver Stars rebound at the lowest rate in the league (46.3 percent) and the problem hasn't gotten any better since losing All-Star rookie forward Danielle Adams. Although they do an admirable job at preventing opponents from scoring on second chance opportunities despite their rebounding woes, it also prevents them from getting second chance opportunities on the offensive end as they score the third least second chance points in the league (9.60 second chance points per game). The problem becomes particularly significant when they struggle to score as they have in previous games against the Storm.
Making someone other than Hammon and Sophia Young beat them: As Pelton notes, the Storm have done a very good job of stopping both Hammon and Young in their previous meetings. But even if Hammon isn't scoring, the most important thing is to keep her from penetrating and kicking out to open teammates around the perimeter. When teams do prevent Hammon from getting penetration, the Silver Stars very quickly turn into an inefficient jump shooting team, which they simply don't play through well as the core of their identity is ball movement, efficient decision-making, and patience.
- Limit turnovers: It's a key every game for the Storm, but with Lauren Jackson back in the lineup on Saturday the problem was minimized to a certain extent - with more balance between the interior and perimeter, the Storm did a much better job of playing the patient style of basketball and letting Bird and Jackson put pressure on the defense to help others find scoring opportunities. But the additional reason for concern against the Silver Stars is that they are very disciplined defensively and force the third most turnovers in the league (16.6 per game).