With most of the league still jockeying for playoff position, Seattle is seeking to separate itself more from San Antonio. The Stars split their first two matchups with the Storm.
Storm coach Jenny Boucek doesn’t want go so far as to use the term “must-win.”
Per usual, the WNBA has three dominant teams and the remaining nine haven’t separated themselves enough at the midpoint of the season to offer postseason clarity. This year more than in the past, this looks even more apparent because the league changed its postseason format so that the top eight overall teams, regardless of conference, will advance to the playoffs.
Even league-worst San Antonio (5-17) still has a chance, which is why Boucek emphasized Wednesday’s matinee at KeyArena with the Stars as pivotal. With a victory, Seattle (8-14) can win the three-game season series against San Antonio to secure the possible tiebreaker for playoff eligibility.
“It’s an important game,” she said. “And it’s important to take care of your home court.”
Most Read Sports Stories
- How David Moore and Tyler Lockett's Canadian onesies illustrate the Pete Carroll culture
- Seahawks coach Pete Carroll on Chris Petersen's decision to step down: 'I couldn't applaud it more' WATCH
- How tight end Jacob Hollister became the Seahawks' most unexpected surprise in a season full of them | In-depth VIEW
- Mariners trade catcher Omar Narvaez to the Brewers for a pitching prospect and a draft pick
- Three games ago, the Seahawks' defense decided it was time to be great ... mission accomplished | Matt Calkins
The Storm is 5-7 at KeyArena. It lost, 91-88, against Chicago on Sunday. Elena Delle Donne, the league’s reigning most valuable player, made a three-pointer with 0.9 of a second left in the game to thwart a 25-point Seattle comeback.
San Antonio enters Wednesday’s game on a four-game losing streak. The Stars split their two meetings with the Storm in San Antonio, playing the second without all-star Kayla McBride.
McBride is out for the final matchup against Seattle, too, due to suffering a season-ending foot injury. Tacoma’s Alex Montgomery replaced McBride in the Stars’ starting lineup.
“Watching from when we played teams a first time, you can see a significant improvement and growth,” Boucek said of the Storm. “That’s what our goal is. If we’re exposed in an area, we work on it and we’re better.”
The Storm will play Wednesday without Ramu Tokashiki. The forward left this week to join her Japanese national team in preparation for the Rio Olympics next month.
Tokashiki will also miss Friday’s matchup at Minnesota.
Tokashiki is averaging 4.3 points and 11.6 minutes per game. The production is a significant dip from when she was named to the league’s All-Rookie team last year and averaged 8.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 20.6 minutes, starting 16 games.
Boucek verbalized the obvious reason for the change.
“Breanna Stewart,” she said of the No. 1 overall pick. “You’re not going to find many coaches who’ll discuss people’s playing time, but anytime you bring in a big piece, everybody’s role shifts.”
Stewart is averaging team highs of 19.1 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.