Dupree Comes Up Big in Playoff Debut

By Brad G. Faye, PhoenixMercury.com
Posted: August 26, 2010

Candice Dupree always comes to play. Appearing in all 34 regular season games in four of her first five seasons, the forward out of Temple has missed just one game in her WNBA career. It’s hard to believe that suiting up all those times to take the court, not once was it in preparation of a postseason contest. That changed on Thursday night as the all-star partook in the first WNBA playoff game of her career.

In Game 1 of the Mercury’s Western Conference Semifinal matchup against the Silver Stars, Dupree scored 32 points on 12-of-17 shooting and also managed to pitch in eight rebounds. Dupree did this despite limited playing time in the second half as the Mercury cruised to a 106-93 win.

“It was a great experience playing in my first playoff game,” Dupree said following the contest. “The intensity was high and we went out there extremely motivated tonight. I think we did a great job of being active on defense and getting stops which allowed us to get out and run. The more we can do that, the easier it will be for us.”

A sixth overall selection by the Chicago Sky in the 2006 WNBA Draft, Dupree never had the opportunity to play on a winning ballclub while in the Windy City. And while she said she enjoyed finally having a chance to participate in a postseason game, the forward also told PhoenixMercury.com that she envisioned much bigger things when learning she had been traded to the Mercury prior to the 2010 season.

“My main goal has been winning a championship and it starts here with the playoffs. It was an exciting, good game but it was just one game. We have a long way to go, so we’re just going to try and keep going out there and doing the same thing.”

Earlier in the season, Mercury Head Coach Gaines was all smiles when discussing what Dupree would add to this team, explaining that the offense Phoenix runs benefits greatly by having a solid player at the four-position. By scoring more points than any other player in her WNBA playoff debut, Dupree showed why the coach was so happy to have her on his ballclub.

“She was doing something all over the court – rebounding, running the lane and posting up in the early transitions,” Gaines said. “She got some good looks out there tonight and we just rode her back.”

As far as Dupree’s teammate Diana Taurasi is concerned, the performance wasn’t as impressive as the media seemed to think.

“She had a terrible game,” Taurasi joked during her postgame press conference. “She missed five shots today so she has some work to do.”

Upon hearing the guard’s criticism, Dupree responded with a smile, “I’ll do better the next game, I promise.”

A scary thought for opponents who now have to ask themselves, “With a postseason game finally under her belt, what does Dupree do for an encore?”

SUNS SHINE AT MERCURY GAME

In attendance for the Mercury’s first game of the 2010 postseason was Suns point guard Steve Nash, forward Earl Clark and their new boss, General Manager Lance Blanks.

PhoenixMercury.com caught up with the two-time MVP to get his thoughts on the Mercury and whether or not he notices any similarities in their offense to the one he runs with the Suns.

“I think they play a lot like we do,” the Suns playmaker said. “I see a lot of similarities in their game and like our team, I think they have great chemistry which helps make them a lot of fun to watch.”

Nash, the father of twin daughters, smiled when asked about the prospect of someday seeing his offspring suiting up in a WNBA uniform.

“It’d be great, but it comes down to doing whatever they want to do. It’s up to them.”