Mercury vs. Sparks Playoff History
For as intense and storied as the Mercury vs. Sparks’ history is, it may be equally as difficult to believe that they’ve only met twice in the postseason prior to 2013.
The two teams met for the first time in the playoffs during the 2000 season (the fourth season in franchise history). Phoenix finished the season with a record of 20-12 which landed them back in the playoffs for the first time in two years.
In spite of their blistering record, the Mercury was the No. 4 seed thanks to an even more remarkable season by the Sparks who finished as the No. 1 seed in the West with an amazing 28-4 record. Los Angeles would go on to sweep the Mercury in the Western Conference Semi-finals, two games to none.
2009, however, was a different story.
Related: 9/21/13: Mercury vs. Sparks Tickets | PHOTOS: 2009 Western Conference Finals | Beat.LA!
In Game 1 of the 2009 WNBA Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Sparks, Diana Taurasi scored 28 points as the Mercury hit 14 3-pointers as a team to win, 103-94. It was the Mercury’s first-ever playoff victory over the Sparks and the teams’ first postseason meeting since their playoff series in 2000. Penny Taylor added 18 points while Cappie Pondexter and Le’coe Willingham combined for 27.
Never a team to back down, the Sparks came back with a vengeance in Game 2.
Candace Parker had a monstrous 24 points and 18 rebounds to go along with Lisa Leslie’s 20 points as the Sparks forced a deciding third game with an 87-76 victory over the Mercury. Leslie and Parker combined for 31 first-half points as the Sparks jumped out to an early 49-34 lead. The Mercury weren’t able to get any closer than eight points in the second half.
Thus, Game 3 of the 2009 Western Conference Finals was one of the most significant and talked about games in Mercury history.
In what would be Lisa Leslie’s final WNBA game, Diana Taurasi scored 15 of her 21 points in the second half to lead the Mercury past the Sparks, 85-74. The Sparks missed 13 of its first 15 shots and tied the record for the fewest points in the first quarter of a playoff game, trailing 19-7 after 10 minutes. The Sparks shot just 35 percent from the floor while committing 16 turnovers which led to 21 points for Phoenix.
"It comes down to just wanting the game sometimes," Taurasi said after advancing to the WNBA Finals. “Not necessarily defensive schemes, plays, just wanting the game. And unlike last (Friday) night, tonight we wanted the game. We didn't necessarily play great basketball on either end but we went and took the game.”
The Mercury, as we all know, went on to win their second WNBA Championship in 2009 in what many still consider to be the best WNBA Finals of all-time.
Check out an all-access look at the Mercury vs. Sparks Western Conference Finals series below.