Historically, 21 of 23 teams that have finished May 4-1 or better have made playoffs. The Storm is 3-1 entering Sunday’s game against Indiana.
History says a win on Sunday practically guarantees the Storm a spot in the playoffs — in this case a 91.3 percent chance.
Seattle (3-1) still has 30 games left on its regular-season schedule, which would seem to minimize the importance of its rematch with Indiana (2-2) at KeyArena. (Two weeks ago, the Storm beat the Fever 87-82 in its home opener.)
However fast starts in May are often rewarded with championship hardware in October.
Indiana @ Storm, 4 p.m., JOEtv
Since 2010 when the WNBA contracted to 12 teams and adopted an 8-team playoff format, 23 teams began the season 4-1 or better. Among those, 21 appeared in the playoffs and 11 advanced to the WNBA Finals, including each of the past seven WNBA champions.
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Only two teams that have started 4-1 have failed to make the playoffs.
Connecticut began 4-1 in 2015 before plummeting to 15-19, and Chicago finished 14-20 in 2013 after a 4-1 start.
“Of course you’d like to be undefeated, but this is about as good as we could have started considering everything,” said guard Sue Bird, who led the Storm to a 4-1 start in 2010 before winning the franchise’s second WNBA title.
Without Bird and star forward Breanna Stewart, Seattle scored just 68 points in a season-opening loss at Los Angeles before winning three straight at KeyArena while averaging 85 points.
“It’s a great start,” Stewart said after Friday’s 87-81 comeback win over New York. “It’s the way you want to start a season, but it’s a long season.”
Five games represents slightly less than 15 percent of a 34-game regular season schedule, but the Storm has taken advantage of a schedule in which it plays five of its first six games at home.
“We have a long way to go, but I like that we’re getting valuable contributions from a lot of different people,” Boucek said. “Different nights it’s different people, and eventually we’ll all get into a good rhythm.”
Third-year guard Jewell Loyd, who leads the WNBA with a 23.5 scoring average, is making an early push for All-Star consideration.
Bird, who sat out the first two games while recovering from offseason arthroscopic knee surgery, is averaging nine points, eight assists and 1.5 turnovers in two games. Veteran forward Crystal Langhorne is shooting 64.7 percent from the field and is second among the Storm while averaging 14.0 points.
Stewart, who missed the opener due to a lingering knee injury, is shooting just 28.9 percent from the field while averaging 13.7 points and 8.0 rebounds.
And then there’s 28-year-old rookie Sami Whitcomb, the surprising star on Friday who finished with a career-high 22 points, including six three-pointers, against New York.
“We’re getting a lot of different contributions from a lot of people, and I like that about this team right now,” Boucek said. “We’re not just dependent on one, two or even three people to have success.
“And we haven’t even gotten Stewie loose yet.”