What Can the Mercury Do? Keep Working
Every single player and coach on the Phoenix Mercury will tell you there are no excuses for tonight’s 99-79 loss against the Minnesota Lynx.
Indeed, there aren’t many positives that come from a 20-point loss. The response, however, says more about a team. But we’ll get to that later on in the article.
Nevertheless, give credit where credit is due; the Minnesota Lynx out-played and out-hustled the Mercury in their 99-79 win.
Minnesota shot 44 percent from the field, assisted on 30 of their 36 made field goals and out-rebounded the Mercury 41-30. The Lynx is an exceptional team that knows exactly what they’re doing; they play the pick-and-roll to perfection, move the ball remarkably well offensively and have multiple players that can hit shots inside and along the perimeter.
Phoenix, on the other hand, is clearly searching for their rhythm and identity on both ends of the floor. Working in a 6-8 center into a historically fluid and fast offense is easier said than done.
Diana Taurasi tallied 21 points on the night while DeWanna Bonner added 18 points and seven rebounds. The Mercury actually out-scored the Lynx 46-39 in the second half, but their first half deficit of 27 points (33-60) was too much to overcome.
So, at 0-3, what does the Mercury do from here?
It’s simple, really – keep working.
The only thing Phoenix can do is get back on the practice court, work on their deficiencies, and head to Indiana on Saturday better prepared. At this point, they have no other choice; resilience has now become a mandatory character trait for the Mercury.
That means they can’t just be resilient heading into Saturday’s game against the Fever. Rather, it absolutely requires a long-term commitment to working towards a stronger self, team and overall effort.
The good news is that the Mercury is no stranger to bouncing back from adversity, and they’ll certainly need to do so quickly with such a talented Western Conference. Phoenix has routinely viewed any difficulty as a challenge rather that something that paralyzes them. It should be no surprise that the Mercury is committed to doing whatever it takes to make it work.
As with every situation in life, the Mercury now has a choice of how they want to respond. They can adopt a defeated attitude and panic, or choose to remain calm and logical to find a solution. Undeniably, the Mercury, as a collective whole, can be characterized as the latter.
I’ve witnessed it firsthand with this Mercury team for years; they work around the clock to fix things. That means players getting a workout in late at night (which I’ve seen) or spending an extra few hours in the training and weight rooms.
And even though we might not see the results on the court yet, that only means the Mercury is working harder. I don't have the answers, but based on everything I’ve personally seen, the players and coaches are doing everything they possibly can to improve.
That’s why we’ll always love them, right?
Keys to the Game Revisited
The Long Ball – The Mercury made 6-22 3-point attempts, but four of those came when they trailed the Lynx by over 20 points. Instead, Minnesota was on fire from beyond the arc hitting seven 3-pointers with five of those coming in the first half as they built an insurmountable lead.
Pace and Consistency – This is what hurt the Mercury the most. They really weren't able to get out in transition and were forced to create much of their offense in the half-court set. While effective in the half-court, Phoenix is obviously most successful when they rebound the ball and get out on the fast break.
25 or More – This was one of those games where it didn't matter if a player passed the 25-point mark. Diana Taurasi looked more comfortable on offense scoring 21 points on 8-14 shooting to go along with three 3-pointers, but the game was too far out of reach.
Minnesota scored 60 points and led by 27 at the half. While the Mercury actually out-scored the Lynx in the third and fourth quarters, the halftime deficit was too much to overcome for Phoenix.