For the first time within the confines of the "Wubble," the Seattle Storm must find a way to bounce back from a setback.
The Storm aim to rebound from their first 2020 defeat, Saturday night against the Los Angeles Sparks at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
With Breanna Stewart (17.0 points per game, 9.3 rebounds per game) and Sue Bird (10.7 ppg) healthy, Seattle (2-1) has reason to feel good about its chances during this unique 2020 WNBA season. The Storm beat New York and Minnesota by a combined 40 points in their first two contests, but fell back down to earth a bit with Thursday's 89-71 defeat to reigning league champion Washington.
Stewart had 15 points on just 5-of-14 shooting as the Storm shot 39.4 percent, went 5 of 25 from 3-point range and committed 18 turnovers during a game in which they trailed 50-32 at halftime.
"We just got in such a big hole in the first half that it's difficult to climb out of against good teams like this," coach Gary Kloppenburg told the Storm's official website.
Seattle takes on another "good" team in the Sparks this weekend.
Like the Storm, the Sparks (2-1) have some high expectations for 2020 and managed to bounce back from their first loss of the season - 96-78 to Chicago on Tuesday - with an 81-76 victory over winless Connecticut on Thursday.
Chelsea Gray had 15 points, Nneka Ogwumike scored 14 and Candace Parker added 10 with 11 rebounds plus three blocks for the Sparks, who clamped down defensively to hold the Sun to 35.6-percent shooting despite committing 15 turnovers and being outrebounded 45-36.
"We're a talented team, and as we get in better condition and better rhythm, I think our game will start to look better," coach Derek Fisher told the Sparks' official website. "But, right now, we just got to scrap and claw and squeeze out every win we can."
Fisher is obviously not lying about his team's talent. Ogwumike (16.0 ppg) leads a group of five players averaging in double-figure points. Gray is scoring 12.7 per game and averaging 6.7 assists while Parker's at 10.3 points and 9 boards per contest.
Los Angeles took two of three from Seattle last season, then won 92-69 in the playoffs. Facing a Storm club minus Stewart and Bird, the Sparks got 21 points from Gray, 17 out Ogwumike and 11 with 10 rebounds and six assists courtesy of Parker.