By Jacob Raim
From the opening tip, Game 1 of the WNBA Finals was Seattle’s. The Storm took control early and did not relent, going wire-to-wire on their home court, 89-76. It was certainly not the game Washington wanted as the first Finals game in franchise history, as the Mystics trailed by as many as 27 in the second half. Midway through the first quarter, Seattle went on a 12-2 run to go up double digits, and they would never let the Mystics back into the game. Jewel Lloyd was the story, going on fire early and setting the tempo, eventually finishing with 23 points. Ariel Atkins paced the Mystics with 23 of her own.
Lloyd struggled shooting in the semis against Phoenix, including getting benched in Game 5 versus Phoenix, but found no such trouble tonight. She shot 9/12 from the field and was a perfect 3/3 from deep. At one point Lloyd and Breanna Stewart, the WNBA’s MVP, scored 31 straight points for Seattle. Stewart finished with 20.
Washington has found success in this postseason thus far with stifling defense and not turning the ball over. They’ll have to regroup and get back to doing what they do best, as they struggled in both those areas tonight. Seattle got virtually everything they wanted offensively shooting 54% from the field and 41% from 3. Washington also turned the ball over 13 times a far cry from the WNBA record four they committed against LA in their first postseason contest. Seattle also opened the game on a 20-0 run in paint scoring, another example of their control of the contest.
Ariel Atkins was the lone bright spot for Washington. She finished with 23 points on 10/14 shooting. looking nothing like a rookie on the largest stage. She passed Maya Moore for most points by a rookie in a single playoff campaign.
Washington did find some success in the fourth quarter, winning it 23-12, and they’ll hope to have that translate into Game 2 success to avoid a 2-0 hole. Tip-off will be 3:30 ET on Sunday from Key Arena.