There it is, folks, an x in the standings next to the Storm’s name. Last night’s win over Connecticut clinched a playoff berth, the Storm’s sixth straight and seven in the last eight years. Since Sue Bird joined Lauren Jackson in Seattle, the only thing that has kept the Storm out of the playoffs has been a tiebreaker with Minnesota in 2003. However, there is still work to be done.
“It says a lot about our franchise and what we’ve accomplished, but it’s still just making the playoffs,” said Bird after the game.
“We still want to try to position ourselves as best we can,” added Head Coach Brian Agler. “That’s very important. We want to try to get as many wins as possible, because you can only help yourself that way.”
The Storm is a win or a Minnesota loss away from ensuring no worse than third place in the Western Conference based on the tiebreaker situation. When Los Angeles lost last night to Phoenix, that moved the Storm a step closer to securing home-court advantage in the first round. The magic number to clinch at worst the second seed is a combination of four Storm wins and Sparks losses, though it will go down to three if the Storm defeats a Western Conference foe or L.A. loses to another West team (neither of which can happen until Sept. 5). That would ensure the Storm the tie-breaker by virtue of a better record against conference opponents.
The West-leading Mercury still remains within the Storm’s sights. Phoenix has a two-game advantage, but has to come to KeyArena to play on Sept. 10 in the Storm’s regular-season home finale. A win in that game would likely give the Storm the head-to-head tiebreaker between the teams.