The star power was aplenty in a WNBA playoffs first-round game that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Finals.
In Sue Bird’s final postseason, the No. 4 seed Seattle Storm rallied for a 86-83 win over the No. 5 Washington Mystics in Game 1 at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle on Thursday night.
Jewell Loyd didn’t hit a field goal until the fourth quarter, but she turned it on at the right time and scored 14 points in the second half. She finished with 16 points. Breanna Stewart led the Storm with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Bird passed 100 3-pointers in her postseason career, becoming the fourth WNBA player to reach the milestone. Diana Taurasi, Becky Hammon and Maya Moore also have 100-plus playoff triples.
The Mystics opened the game on a 7-0 run and held a slim 42-40 advantage at halftime, but the Storm kept fighting through 15 lead changes and 11 times the game was tied.
The Mystics' Elena Delle Donne looked comfortable in her return to the postseason after playing just three games in the past two seasons. She missed the 2020 “wubble” season after opting out because of the COVID-19 pandemic and played only three games in 2021 due to lingering back issues.
The two-time WNBA MVP scored 26 points and added five assists. Ariel Atkins and Natasha Cloud each added 16 points.
How the Storm won Game 1
Turnovers looked like they would doom the Storm as the Mystics kept pushing them to the brink. Seattle turned the ball over 13 times.
But Loyd came to the rescue.
Loyd, who scored a career-high 38 points in the regular season finale, had only two points in the first half. The Storm desperately needed another scorer outside of Stewart as Delle Donne and the Mystics didn't let up.
Loyd hit her first field goal of the game with 4:52 remaining, which set off 12 straight points from her to keep the Storm in it.
What the Mystics can do to even the series
Delle Donne played 32 minutes in Game 1, up from her 28 per game during the regular season. The Mystics were careful with her return this season. They will need others to step up in Game 2 to avoid the sweep and force a Game 3 back in D.C.
Getting Delle Donne stretches of rest is key ahead of a cross-country flight for a potential Game 3. She is coming off two back surgeries and lingering issues that kept her out the majority of last season. She looked impressive in Game 1, giving the Mystics hope for another lower-seed title win.
Mystics vs. Storm series schedule
Game 1: Seattle 86, Washington 83
Game 2 (Sunday): Washington at Seattle, 4 p.m. ET on ESPN
Game 3 (Wednesday, if necessary): Seattle at Washington, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2