The Mercury Five: June 13-19
Every Thursday throughout the season, PhoenixMercury.com's Ben York gives the X-Factor the five most important things they need to know about the team heading into the upcoming week.
5. DeWanna Bonner's Aggressiveness
Bonner was noticeably more aggressive on both ends of the floor versus Indiana; she attacked the basket and made an increased effort to get her teammates involved. The perennial Sixth Woman of the Year tallied 24 points on 7-15 shooting, 11 rebounds and five assists in the Mercury’s 82-67 win over the Fever.
This is the Bonner we’ll likely see for the rest of the year. She wasn’t tentative and her energy fueled the entire Mercury team, especially in the second half.
When Bonner looks for her shot and creates offense, the Mercury is a tough team to beat.
4. Four Games in Eight Days
After playing four games in four games in 17 days, beginning June 14 the Mercury will play four games in just eight days.
Additionally, nothing is going come easy for the Mercury. They’ll host the Sparks Friday, travel to Tulsa to face the Shock Sunday and will return home to take on Minnesota Wednesday and the Washington Mystics (who are off to an incredibly hot start) on Friday, June 21.
After starting 1-3, these four games will unquestionably be huge for the team.
3. Runnin' and Gunnin'
Corey Gaines is sticking with what led to two WNBA Championships: running and gunning.
The change was evident on Saturday’s game against the Fever. The Mercury rebounded the ball well and forced the tempo every time down the floor. The offense was fluid, rhythmic and fast – but they still have a lot of room to improve.
Going back to the up-tempo style doesn’t mean they aren’t going to use one of their biggest weapons in Brittney Griner, quite the contrary.
“We’re going to use Brittney in some new ways,” said Corey Gaines. “The first three games were my fault. But make no mistake about it, BG [Brittney Griner] is definitely going to be involved.”
2. Protecting Home Court
Three of the Mercury’s next four games are at home in front of the X-Factor. Indeed, using home court as an advantage will be a huge focus for the team in the next two weeks.
It’s even more significant since their next home games will be few and far between. After these three home games over the next week, the Mercury has just four games at home through July (2, 10, 14 and 21).
1. Sticking Together
Rather than let the slow start tear them apart, it’s brought the team even closer together.
“We’re family,” Corey Gaines said at an open practice for season ticket holders recently.
That statement couldn’t be more accurate. Each player has voluntarily stayed long after practice has ended the past several days to work on various things with each other such as pick-and-rolls, spot shooting or post-up moves.
It’s obvious: The team is united and determined to turn the season around.