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Mercury No Strangers to Adversity

By Ben York,
Posted: September 9, 2011

“Doesn’t concern me at all.”

That was an exact text I sent to a player (who shall remain nameless) after the Mercury’s loss in Seattle tonight, 70-85.

Why? Because two specific dates immediately popped into my head - September 16, 2007 and September 17, 2009.

(Ironically, Phoenix heads to Seattle to open up the playoffs on September 15, 2011.)

You likely remember 9/16/07 as the date the Mercury went into Detroit and won Game 5 of the 2007 WNBA Finals. Similar to Seattle, Detroit was an incredibly difficult place to win at.

And what about 9/17/09? After a phenomenal 23-11 regular season, the Phoenix Mercury faced the San Antonio Silver Stars in the first round of the playoffs.

They opened up on the road in San Antonio and lost Game 1, 92-91. I remember that game vividly; there was a huge amount of concern facing an elimination game that early in the playoffs.

It would’ve been easy for the team to panic; all the Silver Stars had to do was win one of the next two games and they would’ve advanced.

Instead, the Mercury won two in a row and…the rest is history. Phoenix won their second WNBA Championship.

I remember that 2009 run like it was yesterday. In fact, I wrote an eerily similar post for about how the Mercury plays better with their backs against the wall.

Time and time again, this team has continued to show how much heart they have. When it seems like everything is going against them, that’s when they step up and come through.

I don’t see that being any different in 2011.

Here’s my point: The Mercury has continually proven to me that they play their best under adversity.

And, playing in Seattle, that’s definitely a fitting label.

After their loss to the Storm tonight, they won’t have home court advantage for the Western Conference Semifinals. Stings a bit, but now it’s time move on. Would the Mercury prefer to have home court advantage in the first round?

Absolutely. But don’t think there is a single Mercury player who is hanging her head tonight.

Plus, Diana Taurasi is averaging 33.5 ppg at Key Arena this season…

“I don’t know about everyone else, but I enjoy playing here,” said Candice Dupree about Seattle after tonight’s game. “The fans are great, but that should give us some motivation to come out and beat them.”

Without taking any credit away from the stellar Seattle Storm defense, it was obvious while watching the game that the Mercury played just 12 hours prior. The shots they missed were short (a sign of tired legs) and they simply weren’t as crisp as we’re accustomed to.

If the Mercury is going to win another WNBA Championship in 2011, they’ll have to win on the road at some point, right? What better way to start another epic run than with a victory at Key Arena?

Diana Taurasi, as usual, said it best after the game.

“You have to beat the champions if you want to be champions.”

Stay tuned for in-depth and enhanced playoff coverage on starting Monday.