Regular Season Rewind: Mercury vs. Lynx
In what is fast becoming a yearly clash of contending juggernauts, the Phoenix Mercury and Minnesota Lynx will meet in the Western Conference Finals for the second year in a row and third time in the last four years.
The series boasts the Coach of the Year (Sandy Brondello), WNBA MVP (Maya Moore), Defensive Player of the Year (Brittney Griner), and a combined six All-Stars.
We take a look back at how all those factors came into play in the regular season, which could provide some hints as to how this postseason series might play out.
Sunday, June 15
With the previous season’s conference finals sweep still fresh in their minds, the Mercury were focused on breaking a recent trend of futility at Minnesota’s hands.
Diana Taurasi ensured the tables would be reversed, going off for 21 points and 11 assists. Candice Dupree provided the interior element with 18 point and 10 rebounds as Phoenix shot 52.5 percent from the field, including 6-of-12 from three-point range.
Combined with Moore being limited to a 6-for-18 shooting night, the Mercury’s effort resulted in an 80-72 win that snapped a 14-game losing streak to the Lynx. The last time Phoenix had beaten them: 2011.
Wednesday, June 18
There was little time for Phoenix to celebrate its breakthrough against the Lynx. The two teams met again just three nights later, this time in the warmer confines of US Airways Center.
The change of venue only made the Mercury more assertive. They ran out to a 26-17 lead after the first quarter and never looked back, withstanding Maya Moore’s 36 points before going on to win, 92-79.
Phoenix was ignited by a dominant performance from Griner, who finished with 27 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks. Taurasi hit the boards as well, finishing with a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Thursday, July 31
If any team was capable of halting Phoenix’s historic mid-season run, it was the Lynx.
Minnesota frustrated Phoenix into a 36.8-percent shooting night, one in which only Griner (7-9 FG) hit at least half her shots. The Mercury answered defense with defense, holding the Lynx to a similarly poor 37.7-percent effort from the floor.
The difference, however, was found on the glass. Minnesota out-rebounded Phoenix 48-33, including an 11-2 edge in offensive rebounds. The resulting 75-67 loss snapped the Mercury’s 16-game winning streak.
Saturday, August 9
Phoenix knew it needed a response after its previous let-down to rival Minnesota.
It came in a way Mercury fans have come to know all too well. Just a day after inking a multiyear contract extension, Diana Taurasi was once again cash money in crunch time. The former MVP dribbled to the left, rose for a jump shot near the top of the key and hit nothing but net with 2.9 seconds left.
Brittney Griner’s last-second block of Lindsay Whalen’s lay-up sealed the 82-80 victory for the Mercury, who won despite shooting 44.3 percent (4-13 3FG) to Minnesota’s 48.5-percent shooting clip.