One year ago, Seattle was a missed jumper away from usurping the top-seeded team in the Western Conference. On Friday night at Target Center, the plethora of Lynx talent left the Storm wilting with an 80-64 win in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Minnesota needed more time than usual to exert their dominance over Seattle, taking a mere 40-36 lead at halftime.
"Possession after possession, we had missed assignments defensively," said Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve. "We tweaked a couple of the schemes that were giving us problems and we just asserted ourselves more."
The Lynx gained distance in the third and led by as much as 22 in the second half. Helping the cause was offensive rebounding, giving Minnesota a 12-3 edge in second chance points, and Maya Moore shrugging off a rocky start to hit her last four shots.
"Maya was so amped up to play that she was just well ahead of herself, and she just needed to play with a little more poise and slow down," Reeve said.
Moore finished with 17 points and six assists, but highlights for the Lynx belonged to Seimone Augustus' 19 points and Rebekkah Brunson earning 18 points and nine rebounds. Defensively, Minnesota had eight blocks, including three from Janel McCarville.
"We definitely wanted to key in and contain penetration...contesting every shot that we could when they came around," Augustus said.
Temeka Johnson led the Storm with 14 points, and Tanisha Wright followed with 13 points.
Without the tandem of Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson available this season, the Storm have fallen short of the talent and offensive production needed to quell the frenetic pace the Lynx like to employ. Although Seattle limited Minnesota to 69 possessions, their offense will need more firepower to have a reasonable chance of winning the series.
"What they do to you is when you turn the ball over, they can score on you quick," said Seattle head coach Brian Agler.
Game 2 of the series will take place Sunday at the Tacoma Dome, as KeyArena was already booked by Microsoft (whose Bing search engine sponsors Seattle's jerseys) for a private event.
"We’ll be just as unfamiliar as they are. But at the end of the day, it’s going to be two baskets, same lines and a basketball. I’ve played in those conditions my entire life," said Seattle forward Tina Thompson.