If regular-season games in the WNBA were measured by the pure anticipation and historical overtones, it might be difficult to match what’s set to take place Thursday night at Uncasville, Conn.
The Seattle Storm will visit the Connecticut Sun, but this is much more than a collision between two of the league’s best teams.
Storm guard Sue Bird, a beloved figure in Connecticut since her college playing days, is winding down an illustrious career and this is her final scheduled game in the state.
Both teams are in second place in their respective conferences. The Sun (19-9) carry a three-game winning streak. The Storm (18-10) lost two in a row before beating the Atlanta Dream on Sunday.
It has been an emotional stretch for Bird. Last week, she faced Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi, an ex-UConn Huskies teammate, for the final time in the regular season.
During her last weeks as a player, Bird is intent on maintaining the focus that has helped define her career. That isn’t likely to change even with the fanfare in Connecticut.
“I play a certain way,” Bird said. “I approach the game a certain way.”
Bird, 41, is averaging 7.4 points and 5.8 assists in her 19th season.
While Bird’s appearance is bound to be the overwhelming theme, another Connecticut collegiate great is also with the Storm. That’s forward Breanna Stewart, who leads the WNBA in scoring with 21.3 points per game. She’s also Seattle’s top rebounder with 7.4 per game.
The Sun can’t afford to be distracted as they attempt to round into championship form.
“We’re ready,” forward Jonquel Jones said. “The desire is definitely there. The best way to describe it as just hunger.”
Sun forward Alyssa Thomas is the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, claiming that honor for the second time this season.
Jones and Thomas rank among the top five players in the league in rebounding.
Connecticut topped the Storm 93-86 on June 5 in Seattle and then won 82-71 in a June 17 rematch at home.
–Field Level Media