After their weeks-long battle to decide the No. 4 seed in the 2022 WNBA playoffs was settled by a tiebreaker, the matchup between the Seattle Storm and Washington Mystics was seen as the most intriguing and competitive first-round series. Through one game, it has lived up to the hype.
They battled right down to the wire on Thursday night in a game that featured 11 ties and 15 lead changes. The final one came with 38.1 seconds remaining, as Jewell Loyd hit a pull-up jumper to put Seattle in front for good. A few possessions later, the Storm escaped with a thrilling 86-83 victory to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
Loyd, who struggled for most of the game, finally caught fire in the fourth quarter and carried the Storm down the stretch; she finished with 16 points and three assists. The real star of the show for the Storm, however, was none other than Breanna Stewart, who received MVP chants from the crowd after going for 23 points, 12 rebounds and four assists.
Elena Delle Donne was terrific for the Mystics in defeat, scoring 26 points and dishing out five assists on a highly efficient 11 of 17 from the field. The Mystics also got 16 points a piece from backcourt mates Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins, but they just couldn’t come up with enough answers in the final few minutes.
Game 2 of this series is set for Sunday afternoon in Seattle. The Storm will have a chance to sweep and advance to the semifinals, while the Mystics will look to keep their season alive and force a winner-take-all Game 3 back in Washington.