Sky-Storm Preview

The Associated Press

If the Seattle Storm are going to remain undefeated at home and keep from being swept in the season series by the Chicago Sky, they'll likely have to do it without another key contributor.

The Storm will be minus injured guard Jewell Loyd when they try to improve to 5-0 at home Friday night against the Sky.

Seattle (7-5) is opening a stretch of six consecutive games at Alaska Airlines Arena, one of its two home venues for 2019. The Storm have not won their first five home contests since 2010, but have concern about Loyd going forward.

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Second the team with 15.8 points per game, Loyd suffered a sprained ankle early in Tuesday's 60-56 loss at Las Vegas and will miss at least two weeks, according to the Seattle Times. Her extended absence is another blow to the Storm, who are minus reigning WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart (Achilles) for the season and legend Sue Bird (knee) indefinitely.

Playing all but four minutes without Loyd, Seattle shot 30.1 percent from the field and went 7 of 30 from 3-point range against Las Vegas. However, it was in position to win late before the Aces closed on a 7-1 run to keep Seattle from a third consecutive victory.

Natasha Howard had 14 points and 12 boards for Seattle, which still remains one of the league's top teams despite its injuries. Howard is an MVP candidate while averaging 18.9 points and 9.2 rebounds. and point Jordin Canada (9.0 points per game, 5.0 assists per game) has been more than serviceable in place of Bird.

That probably has not been lost on the Sky, who are quite familiar with the defending WNBA champs this season.

"I think the season's taken on a life of its own and players are stepping up," Chicago guard Allie Quigley told her team's official website.

The Storm will try to avoid a third straight loss in 2019 to Chicago (6-4), which last swept the season series in 2015. The previous two meetings this season came at Chicago and were decided by a combined 11 points.

The Sky also will be looking to win a third consecutive contest on the road, where they tip off a three-game West Coast stretch that features stops at Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Chicago, however, needs to bounce back from an 81-74 home loss to Washington on Wednesday. Quigley made four 3-pointers and finished with 21 points for the Sky, who went 5 of 22 from beyond the arc and committed 17 turnovers that the Mystics turned into 17 points.

"We're better than we showed and we'll show it next game," Chicago coach James Wade said. "They work hard, and they'll work hard to get this right."

Quigley, who has totaled 35 points on 14-of-25 shooting in the last two games, scored a season-high 25 in an 83-79 win over Seattle on June 1. Howard, meanwhile combined for 41 points in the first two meetings with Chicago.

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