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Tuesday, October 2, 2012
We have chance to keep season alive

By Sue Bird

Sue Bird

Wow! What can I say? Obviously, Sunday's double-overtime win against Minnesota was an incredible game and for us -- a great win. After the game was over and I went home, I had tons of text messages and phone calls from people saying how much fun it had been to watch. It was cool to be part of that. We flew out really early the next morning, but from what I keep hearing, the Storm Crazies are still flying high. For us right now, it means we're still alive, it means we have a chance to keep our season going.

I received a ton of positive responses from friends, which isn't exactly odd but always feels great. I feel like any time a game is close, people respond like that. The last time that happened was maybe in 2010, when we were on that great run at the end (against Atlanta and won it all).

It happens every time there's a close game like that, where it comes down to the very end; but, for some reason, this one definitely brought a lot of people out of the woodwork. People were excited about it, especially those who were cheering for the Storm, anxiously watching every shot, every play.

I've been asked if I was nervous or anxious -- to be honest, not really. I knew, being down four, with under a minute to play in regulation … it can be tough, it never feels good. It basically becomes us having to make shots and hoping they miss theirs. Throughout the entire game, we knew we had to make the most of our opportunities. We were going to get certain chances and we just had to capitalize on them. Luckily, we seemed to do that every single time.

Brian [Agler] drew up a great play in the final timeout of regulation, and we knew exactly what we wanted to do. We weren't going to have a lot of time and we didn't have any timeouts. We had to run in to our play and go from there. It was basically just a handoff, into a pick-and-roll. Once I dribbled over and saw the defense shift, there was Lauren [Jackson] wide open.

I got the ball to Lauren and I knew it was in -- she was so wide open, I just knew it was in. That shot and the energy going into overtime was huge. Thirty seconds prior, we were down four. We've all been on the other side, but I am sure it was tough for Minnesota to follow after a shot like that is made.

At the end of the first overtime, Katie [Smith] called out that they might just put the ball in Seimone's [Augustus] hands and let her go one-on-one -- and you can't blame them for that, she had a terrific game. It doesn't even really matter who's guarding her, she's the kind of player who can get her shot off. Tanisha [Wright] did a great job guarding her, just trying to make it a tough shot, and obviously it was. You don't see Seimone air-ball shots very often. We were trying to run people at Seimone a little bit. In terms of the lob, I was on the bench for that. The minute the in-bounder threw it up I could see it was high and back. It was going to be really difficult for Rebekkah [Brunson] to catch it and put it up -- we were just lucky time was on our side for that one.

Finally, getting a lead in the second overtime was huge for us. Even though five minutes is a lot of time, I looked up and, all of sudden, there was only 1:30 left -- it went quick. The key for us was to hold the lead and force them into some really tough shots.

I'm not sure how either team kept the energy level up during both overtimes. I think both teams really left it out there on the court -- it was definitely a grind-out kind of game. It was tough mentally and physically, but in those moments, it's all about digging deep and we were able to do that.

Moving forward for tonight's deciding game, I'm sure Minnesota will be watching a lot of film, as are we. Our defense has to be exactly the same. At this point, both teams know each other very well. Obviously, we'll expect some adjustments, but at the same time, we have to have the same mentality and focus defensively. Then, hopefully, we can generate some more offense. They're a very tough team and I was surprised to hear they only shot 32 percent Sunday because it didn't feel like that. There was a point in the game when it felt like they couldn't miss, but regardless, a team like that isn't going to shoot 30 percent every day.

Do I think we have some adrenaline left over from Game 2? Of course we do! Players on both teams logged a lot of minutes, so we're all in the same boat. It's not like we're coming off a back-to-back and they've been resting all week. Both teams are probably a little tired, but we just have to bear down and mentally get through it -- this is win or go home. It will probably be more of a mental challenge out there than a physical one.

I can say this much: Our team is focused and ready. The #StormCrazies were huge for us Sunday night in Seattle. Having that home-court advantage is big and we expect Minnesota will have the same tonight. But it's the playoffs … do or die, winner take all and we are ready!

Go Storm!