The signs are starting to crop up around KeyArena and jabs are being tossed around on social media sites.
Yes, Seattle is one win from clinching a postseason berth. Yes, no one predicted the Storm, sans All-Stars Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson, would be on the cusp of WNBA history. But it’s true.
And fans are letting the “experts” know every chance they get.
At 7-3 in its past 10 games, Seattle joins rival Los Angeles (8-2) and Eastern Conference-leading Chicago (7-3) as the hottest WNBA teams in August. The Sparks and Sky have already clinched postseason berths.
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“I guess it feels good, but it doesn’t mean anything until it actually happens,” said Storm forward Tina Thompson of the Storm’s unpredicted playoff position. Seattle’s first chance to get the win is Saturday in Minnesota.
Thompson, a 17-year league veteran, has willed the Storm into playoff contention. She’s averaging a team-leading 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds in August. In a crucial regular-season series clincher against San Antonio on Tuesday, Thompson scored 27 points in the 72-71 road win.
The performance isn’t surprising to Thompson, 38. She recently said she had one of her better offseason training regimens in order to retire this season on a high. Thompson also made it clear when she signed with Seattle in 2012 her intention was to win a fifth WNBA championship.
“The way she’s been playing the last couple of games is amazing. You really can’t describe it,” Storm forward Camille Little said. “I mean, the way Tina has been playing, I don’t think it really matters who it is we’re playing right now. How can you guard that? From half court (three-pointers) to inside … I’m excited.”
Seattle (15-14) finishes its season with three games against Minnesota (21-7) and two against Tulsa, which defeated the Storm three times this season. The Lynx, who defeated the Storm 90-72 Aug. 4, advanced to the Western Conference finals last season.
The Storm hasn’t beaten the Lynx on the road since 2010. But win one and the Storm is in the postseason.
Win and get some help with a few Phoenix losses, and the Storm could finish third in the West. The Mercury (14-13) plays four of its final seven games on the road, including matchups in Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta.
Storm coach Brian Agler is keeping the team focused on itself, however. Seattle’s eight core players have been together since training camp, which helped mesh the six new faces quicker.
Seattle’s roster also has a similar defense-first mindset. That’s helped the Storm hold opponents to an average of 67.8 points in its August wins. And Storm forward Shekinna Stricklen is shooting 48.3 percent from three-point range in August — up from 25.7 percent in July.
“It’s been a great run for us,” Storm point guard Temeka Johnson said. “The crazy thing about it is, usually around this time people have jelled. We’re at that point, but we’re still getting better as a group and not everybody can say that.”
• If the Storm does make the playoffs, it will play its opening-round home game at the Tacoma Dome. KeyArena has booked a private event for the possible Sept. 21 or 22 playoff dates.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @JaydaEvans