BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Sue Bird set a standard for assists in the WNBA Finals.
Bird shattered the previous single-game mark for assists in the finals getting 16 in the Seattle Storm's 93-80 win over the Las Vegas Aces on Friday night in the opening game of the best-of-five series.
“I think the way that our team plays and the way that our offense is kind of constructed, which actually dates back to even when Jenny Boucek was our coach, it was always about just finding the open player and moving it in a way where it would create opportunities,” Bird said. “For me as a point guard, I’m just out there trying to find the open player. But like I said, and I’ve always said this, assists is a two-person thing, and tonight (Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd) played amazing.”
The previous record was 11, accomplished eight players before, most recently by Alyssa Thomas last season.
“She really did a good job finding the open person, and we shot the ball really well,” Storm coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “Just a tremendous floor game for Sue.”
Bird also broke the playoff assists record of 14 she held with Courtney Vandersloot of Chicago. The Storm guard had 10 assists in the first half — also a WNBA Finals most — set her own career-best for assists regular season and the playoffs.
Most of her assists came to either Breanna Stewart or Jewell Loyd, who had 37 points and 28 respectively. The record-breaking 12th assist in the third quarter on a pass to Stewart with 7:19 left in the period.
Bird is the WNBA career assists leader with 2,888 in the regular season. She moved into third place on the Finals assist list with 68, trailing only Lindsay Whalen (120) and Maya Moore (70). Bird is playing in her fourth WNBA Finals, and appeared in her 51st playoff game dating back to 2002.
She only played in half of the regular-season games this year as she dealt with a bone bruise in her knee, averaging 5.2 assists. She missed both of Seattle's games against Las Vegas this season.