Preview: Mercury at Lynx, Sunday on ABC

The last time the Phoenix Mercury faced the Minnesota Lynx it was a lopsided affair as the Lynx routed the Mercury in two straight games to secure their first WNBA Western Conference crown on route to their first WNBA title. And when speaking of the deep, talented Lynx, that is what you often hear, as people refer to �their first WNBA title.� Conventional wisdom is that Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and company may be starting a run on championship rings.

Phoenix is no stranger to multiple WNBA title talk, having reached the pinnacle in both 2007 and 2009, and with the 2011 WNBA scoring champion and 2009 MVP Diana Taurasi driving the Mercury, they will be among the squads gunning for the Lynx as the 2012 season tips-off this weekend.

Taurasi and the Mercury will get the first shot at the Lynx when they travel to Minnesota on Sunday, May 20 (12:30pm ET on ABC), where they will see the Lynx receive their championship bling and then attempt what they couldn�t do last September: Beat the Lynx.

�We tried to switch things up, but they always had a pretty good counter for it,� said Taurasi after being eliminated by Minnesota last year. �They were well prepared.�

This year, if anything, the Lynx may be even more prepared as Augustus, Moore, Whalen and fellow starters Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Rebekkah Brunson, as well as key reserves Jessica Adair, Candace Wiggins and Monica Wright will be joined by newcomers Devereaux Peters, an exciting rookie out of Notre Dame, and veteran WNBA guard Erin Thorn.

ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo thinks Minnesota will be ready for challenge of defending their championship.

�When you look at the leaders on that Lynx team, some of them have been there before, Taj McWilliams-Franklin has been there before and Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus have had a lot of success at all different levels of their career,� said Lobo. �I think you have such a nice mix there of veterans and young players that they won't have a hard time getting used to being the hunted.�

Phoenix, on the other hand, needs to account for a big loss going into 2012 as veteran forward Penny Taylor, one of the squad�s top performers last year, is out for the season with a knee injury. Athletic forwards Candice Dupree and DeWanna Bonner will get increased minutes in Taylor�s absence, while the Mercury also acquired a promising rookie in the 2012 WNBA Draft in fiery Ohio State point guard Samantha Prahalis. Two Alexis�s, Hornbuckle and Gray-Larson will share time at the point with Prahalis.

Lobo was intrigued about the Mercury�s prospects heading into Sunday�s showdown at Minnesota.

�I think I'm most eager to see Phoenix to be honest with you,� said Lobo. �It'll be interesting this weekend when the season tips off, but just to see what that team is going to look like this year. They could be good or they could be bad. I mean, Penny Taylor is such an important part of that puzzle, and then with Diana Taurasi leaving in the middle of the season for the Olympics. Then you have Samantha Prahalis. Is she going to get the majority of minutes, a rookie point guard that's so important in his system? That's a team for me that is going to be fun to watch because they're going to have some ups and downs throughout the season. So it is going to be kind of an interesting dynamic to see what ends up happening.�

And the first chance to take a look will be Sunday on ABC as the Mercury take on the defending champion Lynx in Minnesota.

PROBABLE STARTERS
Whalen
Augustus
Moore
Brunson
McWilliams-Franklin
PG
SG
SF
PF
C
Prahalis
Taurasi

Bonner

Dupree
Sanford