For the first time in franchise history, this year’s Storm schedule featured five games against two Western Conference rivals – the Los Angeles Sparks and the Phoenix Mercury. Lo and behold, those two teams will be the Storm’s playoff opponents from the West after both the Storm and the Mercury booked spots in the Western Conference Finals by sweeping their respective opening-round series on Saturday.
As with Los Angeles, the Storm swept Phoenix 5-0 during the regular season. To suggest the Storm dominated the series, however, would be a reach of gargantuan proportions. Of the five Storm wins, two came in overtime at Phoenix. One required a comeback from an 18-point halftime deficit at KeyArena, and another saw both teams give extended minutes to their reserves in their penultimate game of the regular season. The mantra for the Western Conference Finals, then, is presumably “Expect Close Games.”
The playoff history between the Storm and the Mercury is not nearly as extensive as with the Sparks, but Phoenix is the only team besides L.A. the Storm has faced since 2005. The two teams met in the Western Conference Semifinals in 2007, when the Mercury earned a two-game sweep en route to the first of two WNBA championships in the last three years.
This should be a fantastic series played with entertaining style. It starts with Thursday’s Game 1 at KeyArena, and I hope you’ll be there if you can.