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Storm start 2021 title defense with a victory over the Aces originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest
The 2020 WNBA Champion Seattle Storm took the court on Saturday to start the 2021 campaign and they started their title defense the same way they won it to end last season - Against the Las Vegas Aces.
Before that action got started, there was a minor bit of business to take care of. Seattle and the 1,031 fans in attendance got to enjoy seeing the 2020 championship banner unveiled as the team received their championship rings!
After the ceremony, it was right to the action.
Las Vegas jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, but the good feeling for the Aces didn't last long. Seattle got the offense going, and quickly got back in the game.
Seattle was able to grab the 27-26 lead after the first quarter, and from there they never looked back.
Sue Bird and Co. put the defensive clamps on the Aces, holding Las Vegas to just 14 points in the second quarter and took a 49-40 lead into the locker room.
Seattle opened up the floodgates in the second half, started the third quarter on a 9-0 run to extend the lead to 19.
Las Vegas would try to make a comeback, but Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart made sure to keep the lead well within Seattle's control.
Brid ended the night with 11 points and 8 assists. Breanna Stewart had 28 points and 13 rebounds, while Jewell Loyd chipped in 22 points.
The Good: Seattle shot lights out. The Storm shot 50.7% from the field, including 44.4% from deep. Bird and Stewarrt combined for six of the team's 12 made threes. On the other side, the defense held Las Vegas to just 25% from deep. The team also had 23 assists on 37 made buckets. The ball movement was on point.
The Bad: While the ball movement was great, the ball control could have been better. Seattle committed 11 turnovers, while Las Vegas had just six. Ball control needs to be cleaned up. Seattle also had an injury scare late. With 6:27 left to play, Bird banged knees driving to the rim and fell to the floor in a noticeable amount of pain. She limped off the court but would return to the floor a few minutes later. The injury was to the same knee that she bruised last season and that she had arthroscopic surgery on in 2019. Bird's injury history, specifically to that same knee, makes this something for Seattle to definitely keep an eye on.
Highlight: When Bird did return to the court, she made sure to make an impact. With 1:28 left in the game, Bird hit the Aces with a dagger from the corner.
Stat of the Night: The Storm outrebounded the Aces 38-27 and much of that was thanks to star forward Breanna Stewart. Stewart grabbed 13 rebounds en route to a double-double.
Next up: Seattle returns to the court on Tuesday, May 18 for a rematch with the Aces. Tipoff is set for 7:00 pm at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Washington. Seattle will call Angel of the Winds Arena home while their normal home, Climate Pledge Arena, continues its renovation process.