Breanna Stewart showed out and Jewell Loyd stepped up in (another) Game 1 as the Storm ran out to an early lead that they wouldn't relinquish, thrashing the Washington Mystics in the first game of the WNBA Finals.
The Storm were unrelenting and Jewell Loyd looked unstoppable in Game 1 (again) as the Storm guard led her team with 23 points to help Seattle start the WNBA Finals with a blowout 89-76 win to take a 1-0 series lead over the Washington Mystics.
The game couldn’t have started much worse for Washington, as a combination of sloppy passing and lack of offense saw Seattle go on multiple runs throughout the first quarter and establish a double-digit lead that only grew as the game went on. Early on, it was Natasha Howard that proved to be a problem for the Mystics’ defense.
Howard scored a quick 10 points and looked dominant down low, before having little effect for the rest of the game.
The damage was already done but Loyd and Breanna Stewart were just getting started.
The two young Storm players caused Washington fits all game, whether it was Loyd leaking out to the corner for threes and operating as a human flamethrower for Seattle—she finished 9-of-12 and 3-of-3 from three—or Stewart using the unique inside-out game that earned her MVP honors this season, there was little the Mystics could do.
“Jewell had some ups and downs in the semifinals but we made it without her,” Breanna Stewart said during ESPN’s postgame interview. “Now she’s here and she’s ready for the Finals on the biggest stage.”
Soon Washington saw its deficit swell to as large as 27 points with little options left to stop the bleeding as the Mystics’ typically stifling defense gave up bucket after bucket.
The Storm have failed to lose at home yet in the 2018 playoffs, taking all three games against the Phoenix Mercury and looking commanding in Game 1 against the Mystics. If Washington is to avoid falling into a 0-2 hole before heading back home—well, to George Mason University since Capital One Arena is under renovation and George Washington has other activities to conduct—it will need to find a way to slow down Loyd and Stewart, and hope Sue Bird has another quiet game.
Washington will also hope to have better games from its two leaders, Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver. Both were relatively anonymous Friday, scoring 10 and five points, respectively, and struggling to get clean looks due to Seattle’s stringent defense.
If the Mystics can cut down on turnovers and get their stars more involved, this matchup could look much different in Game 2, which is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.