WNBA on ESPN Preview: Minnesota vs. Phoenix in Game 2

The third consecutive Western Conference Finals showdown between the Lynx and Mercury opened as you expected the WNBA’s marquee rivalry to open: with a down-to-the-wire battle.

It came as no surprise that Minnesota held serve at home; homecourt advantage matters more in this series than most others, and the same will hold true heading into Game 2 in Phoenix as the Mercury look to respond.

How Game 1 Went Down

Minnesota’s All-Star perimeter trio of Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus get most of the attention — and for good reason. But the team’s gritty Game 1 win came down to the All-Star frontcourt tandem of Rebekkah Brunson and Sylvia Fowles.

The two combined for 25 points, 33 rebounds and four blocks to outmatch Mercury bigs Candice Dupree and Brittney Griner. The Lynx outrebounded the Mercury 44-30 overall, grabbing on the offensive glass. They also held Phoenix to just 33% shooting, forcing tough shot after tough shot.

With the win, Minnesota improved to an incredible 91-13 at home since drafting Moore in 2011.

What To Expect In Game 2

In short, expect an energized Mercury team. Phoenix, too, is dominant on its home floor — 39-14 since drafting Griner in 2013, to be exact.

Execution in the pressure-packed environment of the postseason is one thing, but getting pounded on the glass should be an easily correctable issue, especially with the “X-Factor” home crowd giving them a boost.

The turnaround needs to start with Griner, who lost her individual matchup with fellow two-time Defensive Player of the Year Fowles in Game 1. She needs to set the tone on both ends of the floor, and finding easy buckets inside would open up the offense for the rest of the Mercury.

The Lynx are a scary group to deal with because they can win even when their Olympians have off nights. Start with Augustus, Moore and Whalen shooting better than 14-of-40 (35%) from the floor, and Minnesota should at the very least be in position to win this series down the stretch.

Series Highlights

Brunson’s seven offensive rebounds in Game 1 gave her 143 for her playoff career — a new all-time high.

Her tip-in before the halftime buzzer put the Lynx up three at the break after rallying back from a 21-14 first-quarter deficit.

After leading the Mercury in scoring during the regular season, DeWanna Bonner stepped up once again to lead the way with 21 points, including four three-pointers.