WNBA Finals Takeaways: Storm veteran Bird takes game to another level

The Seattle Storm pose for a team photo after winning basketball's WNBA Championship Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Bradenton, Fla. The Storm defeated the Las Vegas Aces to win the title. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

The Seattle Storm were crowned the 2020 WNBA champions after completing a sweep of the Las Vegas Aces.

However, Game 3 looked very different to the first two contests, with the Storm overwhelming the Aces by 33 points to take home their fourth title in franchise history and their second championship in three years.

The unstoppable duo

With her fourth 20-plus point performance of this playoff, it’s not a shock that Breanna Stewart was chosen as Finals MVP for this series. And a complement to Stewart all post-season long has been sharpshooter Jewell Loyd, who averaged 17.8 points during the series.

An interesting stat is that Stewart and Loyd are undefeated as teammates in the WNBA finals, going 6-0 between 2018 and 2020. Stewart also became just the fifth WNBA player to win multiple finals MVP awards, and her 28.3 scoring average is the second highest in WNBA Finals history.

Older, but wiser

When the Seattle Storm won their fourth franchise championship, so did Sue Bird – in year 17 of her career, 10 days before her 40th birthday. Bird led the Storm in assists, averaging five per game in the regular season.

Bird’s court vision and leadership allowed her to take her game to another level even at her age, and against the Aces she raised her game ever further, averaging 11 assists per game across the three-game sweep.

For the playoffs as a whole, Bird averaged 9.2 assists per game — a remarkable feat.

Given her age, retirement is certainly an option for her and if she chooses to do so, her illustrious career and her impact on this 2020 Storm team is one that won’t soon be forgotten.

Vegas will return

After fighting until the last second against the Connecticut Sun to secure their WNBA Finals ticket, the Aces had far from the performance they expected against the Storm.

They were outscored by a total of 59 points, despite league MVP A’ja Wilson doing all she could to keep the Aces in games and trying to make up for the absence of Dearica Hamby, a key bench player who left during the Sun series due to injury.

In the final game against Seattle, Wilson scored 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting while the team as a whole only mustered to shoot 34.4 per cent from the field.

Wilson not only led the team in scoring during the playoffs, she the team’s top rebounder as well.

Included in the Aces’ team struggles in Game 3 was Angel McCoughtry, who only scored seven points on 2-of-7 shooting in the loss, and 2019 first-overall pick Jackie Young, who had 11 points but was just 3-for-12 from the floor.

Despite stumbling here, though, Vegas is still a young, talented team that looks to have plenty of years to win a few titles before the window closes.

The dream team

Though Stewart was named a very deserving Finals MVP, it wasn’t just because of her that Seattle emerged as champions this season.

The Storm saw so much success this season because of how well-rounded their team was. Seattle had the luxury of having multiple players in both the starting five and off the bench who could contribute meaningful minutes when on the floor and that’s what truly elevated the Storm’s play.

Take for example the game Alysha Clark had on Tuesday, scoring 10 points, collecting seven rebounds and going 2-for-4 from three-point range. Or what about bench boss Jordin Canada who had 15 points and five rebounds.

Not only is the team complete when it comes to shooting, but Storm players aren’t afraid to mix it up on the glass and can get in stance and hold their own in their matchup, as well. This two-way play was a major key to the Storm finding the success and it was why they emerged as 2020 WNBA champions.

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