Kristi Toliver and Jewell Loyd Share Their Scouting Reports for the 2018 WNBA Finals

by September 07, 2018
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Kristi Toliver, Jewell Loyd

The 2018 WNBA Finals tip off tonight in Seattle with the Storm hosting the Washington Mystics. The Storm, the number one overall seed, and the Mystics, the number three seed, are both coming off grueling five game series. The road hasn’t been easy but now that they’re here, we went straight to the source to talk game-planning for the W’s ultimate test. Kristi Toliver, the Mystics’ starting point guard and Jewell Loyd, the Storm’s guaranteed bucket, share their squad’s strategy for the Finals below.

SLAM: You just beat the Atlanta Dream in a difficult five-game series.What’s the biggest lesson you’re taking from that series into the Finals?  

Kristi Toliver: The biggest lesson is defense wins. We’re going to have to defend our butts off in order to be successful in this next series.

SLAM: What challenges does Jewell Loyd present for your defense?

KT: Jewell is a special player. She’s extremely versatile and can do everything. Her ability to move off the ball, knock down a three-point shot, be so great in the open court. Even defensively, she takes a lot of pride in that, wanting to be a two-way player. We definitely have our hands full with her. Jewell is a very special player and a really great person.

SLAM: What does Mamba Mentality mean to you?

KT: To be agressive and focused all the time. To always be a threat. Obviously Kobe has that and Jewell tries to take that on. I certainly do. No matter the situation, you’re going 100 percent and you’re not afraid. Fearless.

SLAM: You guys are opening up this series in Seattle, a city that has a ton of passion for the game. What are you expecting on the road tonight?

KT: It’s going to be rocking in Key. It always is. Especially when you’re in a Finals situation. These are some of the best fans in the W. It’s going to be loud, it’s going to be a great environment. We have to come out fearless and be assertive from the beginning. Let them know that we’re here.

Kristi Toliver, Jewell Loyd

SLAM: Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson had Seattle jumping when they were winning championships. What’s the city been like for the past few days since you made it to the Finals?

Jewell Loyd: They love sports. To know that we’re in the Finals, and had a great season, all year the fans have been phenomenal. I got a car wash the other day and the guy was like, “Congrats, can’t wait to see you guys in the championship!” The whole city is ready and excited. 

SLAM: You guys just came off a really tough series against Phoenix, that went five games. What’s the biggest lesson you’re carrying from that series into the Finals?

JL: We blew a lot of leads going into the third and fourth quarters. Probably the worst fourth quarters we’ve ever had, to be honest. Game 5 showed that we’re capable of holding onto leads. We’re capable of coming back. The whole year we’ve been down in big games and had to fight to come back. That’s something that we’ve always had with this team. Moving forward, just understanding execution, game and clock situation, what play calls you like down the stretch, who to go to.

SLAM: What kind of challenges does Kristi Toliver present for your defense?

JL: Alysha Clark is a great defender. I think she should have been on an all-defensive team for the way she competes every night against the best players in our league. We expect her to frustrate Toliver, get in her head a little bit. It’s also a team effort, as well. Knowing where she is in transition, everyone needs to be aware.

SLAM: What does Mamba Mentality mean to you?

JL: Mamba Mentality is never quitting and controlling the fire that you have. It’s not always about necessarily scoring, it’s not always about being the main attraction and competing at a high level every time. Never lose sight of the fight.

The 2018 WNBA Finals begin tonight at 9 PM EST on ESPNews.

Max Resetar is an Associate Editor at SLAM. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram. Photos via Getty.