Despite a broken nose, some poor early shooting, and a terrifyingly talented underdog opponent that wouldn’t give up, Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird became absolutely deadly when it mattered most. Tonight, in the deciding game of their semifinal, Bird buried the Phoenix Mercury with just a flat-out disgusting fourth quarter performance in a 94-84 Storm win.
It was a breakneck, back-and-forth game all throughout, as the Mercury looked to ride their momentum and make an unprecedented comeback from down 2-0 against the Storm to advance to the WNBA Finals. The often-invisible Phoenix guard Yvonne Turner gave the team some stellar offense; Brittney Griner led her squad in points, rebounds, assists, and blocks; and Diana Taurasi, despite some early foul trouble, was everything you’d expect her to be in a winner-take-all game. With all these contributions, the Mercury held a 63-59 lead heading into the fourth.
And that’s when the 37-year-old Bird, the unquestioned leader of the best regular season team in basketball this year, showed the fuck up. Taking the whole game into account, WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart’s game-high 28 points may have been the biggest factor in the Storm’s win. But holy shit was Bird unstoppable from long range in crunch time. From a 73-69 Storm deficit with six minutes to play, until an 84-76 Storm lead with 2:51 remaining, Bird drained three three-pointers and a long two, plunging the dagger into the Mercury without mercy until they laid down by removing her close friend and fellow legend Diana Taurasi from the game with 14 seconds still to play. It was viciously cruel and utterly beautiful.
The Storm meet Elena Delle Donne and the Mystics in the Finals, beginning on Friday night.