Keys to the Game: Los Angeles Sparks, July 14

By Ben York,
Posted: July 12, 2013

Diana Taurasi said it best after the Mercury's loss to the Silver Stars on Wednesday.

“We just have to get back in the gym and work. There’s not much to be said. If you want to talk winning games then we have to go back into the gym and work, get better, and be prepared. We need to scout better and implement that and if we do that then we will be better.”

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The game will be televised on FOX Sports Arizona Plus on Sunday, July 14 at 3:00 PM. For a channel listing, see the chart below.

The Sparks, still a prolific offensive team, surpassed the Mercury for 1st in the WNBA in scoring at 85.6 ppg while Phoenix averages 84.5 ppg. Additionally, Los Angeles is 1st in field goal percentage shooting an average of 48.4 percent from the floor compared to the Mercury's 45.7 percent. They're also red-hot from the three-point line at an average of 35 percent (Phoenix shoots just over 30 percent, 11th in the league).

Both teams are 7-3 in their last 10 games, but Los Angeles enters Sunday's contest having won four games in a row while the Mercury has lost two in a row. Certainly, since these teams play each other twice in four days, each will be motivated to come away with a victory to make up some ground in the Western Conference Standings.

Here are the keys to a Mercury win:

Momentum Heading into the All-Star Break

The Mercury's next four games are against the top two teams in the Western Conference.

Two at home, two on the road.

They'll start the stretch with Sunday's home game against the Sparks, then take on Los Angeles on the road, followed by a home and away series with the Minnesota Lynx on the 21st and 24th.

Obviously, this stretch of games won't be easy -- and the team is fully aware of that.

The team looks at these next few games as a defining moment of the season thus far, similar to their subsequent gams after starting 0-3. Indeed, they'll be ready.

Having Fun

For the past two games, both losses, it hasn't seemed like the Mercury was having very much fun.

When they aren't smiling, their play on both ends of the court becomes tight and stagnant.

Conversely, when Phoenix last played the Sparks on June 14, it was probably the most fun I've seen them have all year.

Sure, winning is fun and losing isn't, but it usually bodes well for the Mercury when they're playing free and visibly enjoying being on the court.

Taking Care of the Ball

Phoenix has averaged 20.5 turnovers the past two games -- again, both losses.

In their loss in Minnesota, they tallied 21 while again hitting the 20 turnovers mark against the Silver Stars.

That simply cannot happen against the Sparks -- a team that thrives on capitalizing on opponent's mistakes.

Their turnovers have not only resulted in more scoring opportunities for the opposition, but it's also hampered everything they've done on the offensive end of the floor.

Boiling the game down to its simplest form, it's absolutely imperative the Mercury takes better care of the ball over the next four games.