Keys to the Game: Silver Stars, Aug. 17

By Ben York,
Posted: August 15, 2013

Looking for their fourth win in a row, the Mercury takes their first road trip under interim head coach Russ Pennell.

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Phoenix visits the Silver Stars on Saturday, August 17 for their first game on the two-game trip.

No matter when the Mercury plays the Silver Stars, it's an incredibly tough game to win.

Phoenix and San Antonio meet for the third of five matchups in 2013. The Mercury won the first meeting on June 25, 2013 as well as the final game of the 2012 series on Sept. 1, recording consecutive series wins for the first time since Aug. 3-6, 2010. San Antonio tied the season series 1-1 when the Silver Stars defeated the Mercury at US Airways Center July 10.

Prior to the injury-depleted 2012 season, the Mercury had split the previous eight head-to-head matchups.

Here are the keys to a Mercury win:


The Mercury is averaging 17 turnovers in their last three games, including 19 in their most recent win versus the Fever.

Even so, they've managed to win three in a row in spite of that. Under Russ Pennell, the Mercury is holding opponents to 60.3 points on 33.3 percent (59-of-177) shooting, including 28.6 percent (16-of-56) from three-point range.

It's clear, however, that the team won't always be able to fall back on their improved defensive play if they aren't taking care of the ball. Against the Silver Stars who force 15 per game (fourth best in the WNBA) the Mercury needs to be more crisp and assertive with their passing.

Avenging Their Home Loss

The last time these two teams met on July 10, Phoenix was playing without rookie Brittney Griner due to a left knee sprain. San Antonio beat the Mercury who dropped to 8-6 at the time with consecutive losses for the first time since starting the season 0-3.

San Antonio is never an easy place to play.

Still, the Mercury needs to go into Saturday's game with an all-business mindset. In what is still a tight playoff race in the Western Conference, the Mercury needs to rally around each other and continue their improved defensive play in order to come away with another conference win.

Brittney Griner

Brittney Griner is leading the league with 3.19 blocks per game, and is on pace to become just the second player in WNBA history to average at least 3.00 blocks in a season, the first since 2002 (Margo Dydek). Shes on pace to block 81 shots this season.

Furthermore, Griner is shooting a league-best 59.1 percent from the field and has shot at least 60.0 percent in nine of her last 14 games, 10 total this season.

Against the Silver Stars, its important that Griner asserts herself early on both end of the floor.