It has been a little over three weeks since the Storm recorded their last win, and they are in the midst of a rough road trip, dropping four of their first six games. They have fallen into last place in the Western Conference during this skid, mainly because the Los Angeles Sparks have surged after the All Star Break, and are now sitting in the fourth and final playoff spot at 7-14. The good news for the Storm is that they are only two games back of the Sparks, and have a great opportunity to move into a tie for fifth if they are able to knock off the Stars tonight. Both teams are struggling and are looking to snap their four game losing streaks. Here are some keys to the game .
1. Let Jia Perkins shoot from deep:
The Stars have a trio of players, Kayla McBride, Jia Perkins, and Sophia Young-Malcolm, that score the majority of their points. All three players are capable scorers, and the Stars are at their best when all three players perform well at the same time. Jia Perkins, who averages 13.3 points per game, shoots about 45% from the field and is a capable shooter from the mid range as well as at the rim. Her week spot seems to be her ability to shoot threes, as she is shooting a pedestrian 29.3% from deep. If the Storm are going to be successful Saturday, they are going to need to limit Perkins ability to get into the lane and create medium to close range shots, and force her to settle for threes.
2. Force the Stars role players to produce:
This point is related to my first point, but it is worth mentioning. Perkins, McBride, Young-Malcolm, and Danielle Robinson average 51 points a game between the four of them. The Storm will need to stop at least one of these players from reaching their average, and force another player, such as Perkins, out of their comfort zone if they want to have a chance to win.
3. Who will step up for the Storm?
The Storm can usually count on Sue Bird to produce a solid stat line of points and assists, and is usually pretty good about limiting her turnovers. The question is, who will be the player to step up and help Bird? Jewell Lloyd was solid in the month of July, as evidenced by the fact that she was named Rookie of the Month for the Month of July. However, despite her solid play of late, Lloyd is still learning the WNBA game and it would be unrealistic to expect her to be a true number two option next to Bird for the rest of the second half of the season. The Storm need someone else besides Bird, (and for Lloyd to keep up her solid play) to step up and contribute regularly iIf they are going to contend for the fourth and final playoff spot.