Keys to the Game: Washington Mystics, June 27
"Defensively, she [Brittney Griner] really patched up a lot of our mistakes," said Diana Taurasi after the team's win against the Silver Stars Tuesday. "Offensively, when she gets in position like that, she has such a great touch and feel for the basket. She played really well, that's probably the best game as a pro she's played.''
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Looking to win their sixth game in seven tries, the Mercury heads to Washington to take on the Mystics on the second game of their annual "Circus Trip." In the last six games, the Mercury has averaged 88.2 points per game after scoring just 77.0 during their 0-3 start.
However, the Mystics undoubtedly want to exact revenge on the Mercury stemming from their last meeting -- a 90-82 loss in Phoenix less than a week ago. In the Mercury win, Griner tallied 21 points and four blocks while Taurasi led the way with 31.
The Mercury also dominated the paint in the win, outscoring the Mystics 44-22 inside while shooting 51.6 percent from the floor.
Washington returns home on Thursday against Phoenix after a brutal three-game road trip where they fell to the Storm, Mercury and Sparks. Now tied for third place in the Eastern Conference, the Mystics certainly shouldn't be overlooked.
Here are the keys to a Mercury win:
As the team's pace of play continues to increase, taking care of the ball becomes even more important.
On Tuesday against the Silver Stars, the Mercury turned the ball over 14 times. Indeed, against a solid defensive team like the Mystics, Phoenix can't allow Washington to get repeated chances at scoring the ball.
As a general rule, turnovers haven't plagued the Mercury so far this season. However, that doesn't mean protecting the ball becomes any less imperative. In each game they've won where they've found a rhythm offensively, the Mercury's ball movement has been crisp and streamlined. Now, on the road in a different city for the second time in three days, limiting turnovers becomes mandatory.
Rebounding is always a major key in regards to the Mercury's success.
It's pretty simple -- in each of the team's five wins, they've out-rebounded the opposing team.
Against San Antonio, they held a +20 rebounding margin (49-29). Four players had six or more rebounds (Dupree - 12, Taurasi - 9, Griner - 7, Houston - 6). Conversely, in their last loss against Minnesota, their rebounding margin was -22 (48-28). Only one player grabbed more than six rebounds in that game (Griner - 7).
Rebounding is essential because when the team isn't hitting from outside as they normally do (like their win against the Silver Stars), controlling the glass not only impacts their offense but their defense as well.
Imagine how the Mercury will look from an offensive standpoint when their three-point shots truly begin to fall?
It's somewhat uncharacteristic for the team, but the Mercury currently sits as last in the league in three-point shooting percentage at just 29 percent
Compared to 2009 when they averaged 39 percent from beyond the arc, and their league-leading 84.4 points per game this season could be the tip of the iceberg.