SEATTLE – Hope the last person to leave KeyArena on Tuesday turned off the lights.
The Storm don’t plan on coming back – at least not to play.
Seattle used textbook defensive pressure late to prevent a talented Atlanta team from pulling off an upset, winning Game 2 of the best-of-5 WNBA finals series 87-84. The Storm, who were bumped in the opening round of their previous five postseason appearances, are now just one win from earning their second championship.
Game 3 is Thursday at Philips Arena in Atlanta. Game 4, if necessary, would be there Sunday. The Dream must win those two to force a winner-take-all Game 5 in Seattle next Tuesday.
“Just to be out there was great,” said Storm All-Star Swin Cash, who finished with 19 points and three assists. “We just played great tonight. We didn’t play our best basketball, but well enough to win, and that’s what I’m happy about.”
And this time, Cash wouldn’t be stopped.
Free from the foul trouble that handcuffed her in Game 1, Cash was a one-person road block, deflecting or blocking passes, and snagging loose balls. The effort opened up teammates in the fourth quarter, getting points in transition for Lauren Jackson and Camille Little down the stretch.
Cash even contributed offensively late, scoring a big 3-pointer with 2:10 left to give Seattle an 81-73 lead. But Dream All-Star Angel McCoughtry and her teammates continued to push.
It was a 3-pointer by McCoughtry with 16.5 seconds left that made many of the 13,898 in attendance wonder if Seattle’s home hex – 20-0 entering Tuesday night – would end. Yet, Cash added more defense and the Storm made 6 of 8 free throws in the final 30 seconds to close out the game. Seattle made more free throws (27) than Atlanta attempted (23).
“Defense is what is going to get us to the championship,” said Storm guard Sue Bird, who finished with 10 points and five assists. “Our defense came up big when we needed it to.”