Though early, Thursday night's meeting between the Storm and Mystics at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., just might be a preview of the 2020 WNBA Finals.
While that could be getting ahead of oneself, it's not too early to picture Seattle and Washington again playing for a league title. That was the case in 2018, when the Storm swept the Mystics in the Finals. With stars Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart injured last season, Seattle failed to repeat while Washington claimed the title for the first time.
Out of the gate this season, both squads are 2-0 and showing the look of expected title contenders. At least from an offensive standpoint, these clubs have not had much trouble getting going after the start to the season was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Seattle, a popular preseason title favorite, has lived up to that early hype thanks to the play of Stewart (18.0 points per game, 9.0 rebounds per game) and Bird (13.5 ppg, 4.5 assists per game). Stewart had 18 points with 10 boards and Bird scored 16 during a 90-66 win over Minnesota on Tuesday.
"Some days are better than others, and (Tuesday) was a good day," Bird told the Storm's official website.
The Storm, who struggled with consistency minus their two superstars in 2019, have totaled 177 points while beating New York and Minnesota by a combined 40 points to tip off this campaign.
Washington, meanwhile, is playing without stars Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud and Tina Charles, but still has plenty of talent left to run out on the court. Aerial Powers and Myisha Hines-Allen each are averaging 21.5 points through the first two games, while Emma Meesseman and Ariel Atkins average 13.0 apiece.
Powers registered a career-high 27 points while Hines-Allen and Atkins each scored 16 in the Mystics' 94-89 win over Connecticut in Tuesday's rematch of the 2019 WNBA Finals. Washington has totaled 195 points in its first two contests, but proved on Tuesday that it can win the ugly games.
"We hung in," coach Mike Thibault told the Mystics' official website.
Washington won two of the three meetings with Seattle last season. Powers scored 16 in the most recent get-together, an 88-59 win for the Mystics on Aug. 14.