The Storm are great… but not invincible.
The Seattle Storm are incredible. They are inspiring. But this past week, the Indiana Fever and Las Vegas Aces showed that the Seattle Storm are not, in the words of Thanos, inevitable.
The “underestimated” Fever upset the Storm on Thursday after entering the building with just eight players and a 4-7 record and leaving with the biggest upset victory in the WNBA this season.
“I think we got underestimated today,” said head coach Marianne Stanley. “It’s why we play sports. If the game was decided beforehand, why would we play? If you play with a big heart and you play for other people around you and give it your all, good things usually happen.”
The Fever showed what their ceiling could look like in the win: a team with balanced scoring and a variety of players who can light it up from beyond the arc. Since Thursday’s game, Indiana has lost to the Chicago Sky and will have a rematch with the Storm on Tuesday.
More from Atlanta Dream
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, October 19: NCAA shakes up schedules, not scholarships
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, September 28: All-Rookie team announced
- Women’s Basketball, September 17: NCAA Hoops to start Nov. 25
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, September 14: Mystics are going dancing
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, September 10: Dream are (mathematically) stayin’ alive
Sadly for the Fever, they will be without All-Star Erica Wheeler for the entirety of the Wubble season, despite multiple reports that she was expected to play. In her place, Indiana signed guard Kamiah Smalls, who was a prolific scorer in college and could be a valuable sparkplug off the bench.
If they somehow manage to pull out another victory on Tuesday, this could become the “low-seed nobody wants to face in the playoffs” team.
On the other side of the coin, the loss is a bit of a wakeup call for the Storm, who looked like they needed a spark beyond Jewell Loyd’s 35-point outburst. Their loss to the Aces over the weekend opened a new fold to the league. The race for the 1-seed is wide-open.
The Aces, who now sit right behind the Storm in the standings, proved they have the two most valuable things in all of basketball, A’ja Wilson, and a way to slow down Breanna Stewart.
The three-headed monster of Dearica Hamby, Angel McCoughtry, and Wilson is exceeding all expectations for Las Vegas. With a gang of two-way players filling out the rotation, this team looks as poised as any to hop Seattle for the 1-seed.
Another one of those teams racing for that 1-seed? The Sylvia Fowles-less Minnesota Lynx, who have fought their way to a 9-4 record.
Minnesota has been one of the best, if not the best, drafting teams in the WNBA over the past decade. So it shouldn’t be any surprise that they killed it in this draft. What should be a surprise is that they nabbed the ROY-favorite, Crystal Dangerfield in the second round of the draft.
Dangerfield is already one of Minnesota’s best and most consistent players and can do everything out on the court. Lynx first-rounder Mikiah Herbert Harrigan has also been a productive member of Cheryl Revve’s rotation, earning major minutes from the coach due to her stellar play on the defensive end.
Another young gun that has shown out for Minnesota: Bridget Carleton. Despite being signed on a string of seven-day contracts, Carleton has had flashes of brilliance this season, including an outstanding 25-point performance against the Liberty earlier in the season.
Carleton is an uber-efficient scorer with a high basketball IQ, someone who can play on or off-the-ball and has already proven to be a valuable team-defender. Despite her lack of flashy plays, Carleton has all the makings of a team-favorite, coach-favorite, and fan-favorite. Hats off to her.
The LA Sparks are one of the final team racing for that top spot in the league, and they’re riding a terrific defense to do so. Candace Parker, in particular, has put the team on her back over the win streak. And she has made her mark on both ends of the court while doing so.
“What Candace has been doing defensively this year cannot go unnoticed. We can’t not talk about it anymore,” head coach Derek Fisher said. “She’s been phenomenal defensively and what she’s doing in terms of rebounding, shot-blocking, communicating, really just trying to provide a level of energy and passion…Her teammates need that from her, and there’s been a ton of possessions this season where she’s provided it.”
While the Mystics have fallen toward the bottom of the league since their 3-0 start, they have picked back up over their past few games and look poised to have a bright future.
Myisha Hines-Allen and Stella Johnson, in particular, have surprised opponents with their outstanding play, while Alaina Coates and Kiara Leslie also helped Washington pull-off a near-comeback against the Wings over the weekend.
The Connecticut Sun are one of the hottest teams in the league right now, thanks to the play of Alyssa Thomas. Thomas notched 25 points in the weekend win over the Liberty, and the team will have a huge 3-day rest period to recharge and recalibrate for the schedule ahead.
Over the Atlanta Dream’s weekend, Glory Johnson bounced back from her slow start and showed why she can be one of the best players on this young team. Despite their overtime loss, Johnson’s 23-point performance for the Dream was an encouraging sign for her and head coach Nicki Collen.
“I think my team and my coaching staff communicated what they want from me and what they expect from me and that’s all I need,” Johnson said. “I’m here to help my team win and whatever it takes to help my team win is what I’m going to do, whether it’s uncomfortable for me, whether I’m not really sure what to do, I know what they expect and that’s what I’m going to try to bring every single time I step on the court.”
Down in the NCAA, the Pac-12 has decided to postpone all sport until the winter. This further tips the conference’s unlevel playing field, as some women’s basketball teams have been barred from campus while others are already practicing.
We have no idea what NCAA women’s hoops will look like this season, if they’ll happen at all, and many questions such as non-conference schedules and unilateral conference-wide decisions, are still very much up in the air.
The Phoenix Mercury squeaked out an 88-87 victory over the Washington Mystics as Diana Taurasi, sporting a Kobe jersey, scored a season-high 34 points.
The Los Angeles Sparked notched a three-point, 84-81 win against the Dallas Wings as Candace Parker continues to look like a dark horse MVP candidate.
The Atlanta Dream upset the Minnesota Lynx this weekend, as Betnijah Laney proved once again why her name is atop the Most Improved Player conversation
Play of the Weekend
Everything Diana Taurasi did this weekend, but if I’m forced to go with one play it would be this. Just vintage DT.