Starting Five: Five Observations From Game 1

It was all smiles for the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday as they stormed out to a 1-0 lead in the 2014 WNBA Finals presented by Boost Mobile.

Here are five things you need to know about Game 1.


The highly anticipated matchup in the middle was largely one-sided, at least in the early going. Brittney Griner patroled the paint with an iron fist and finished with a WNBA Finals record eight blocks. In the process, she flustered Sylvia Fowles, who missed 10 of her first 14 shots. In addition to altering her attempts, Griner made it difficult for the Sky to initiate entry passes, and forced a few turnovers that way as well.

Fowles did settle down late in the game and get more comfortable -- scoring a team-high 22 points to go with 11 rebounds -- but it was Griner (12 points, seven rebounds, eight blocks) that had the much bigger impact on the game.

"She challenges me to be better and I challenge her," Griner said of her matchup with Fowles. "It's always a good one."


The Sky's worst fears were realized when Elena Delle Donne again started suffering from the back injury that has limited thus far in the postseason. In fact, EDD only played 10:24, and not a minute in the second half.

"It got worse," Delle Donne said about not coming in in the second half. "It felt good to start. I thought it was going to be a good day in warmups and then probably two minutes of play went by and the paralyzing pain came right back where it goes into my legs, and it doesn't get better once it gets back."

For the day, Delle Donne finished with two points on 1-for-4 shooting.


The Mercury put on a clinic on the defensive side of the ball. While Griner stole the headlines with her eight blocks, the entire team played suffocating defense. Nothing came easy for the Sky on the offensive end and they finished the game shooting just 31.9 percent from the floor, but even that was padded by some easier buckets in garbage time. Heading into the fourth quarter, they Sky were were 12-for-52 (23.1 percent).

To make matters worse, the Mercury held the Sky to just eight points (a Finals record low) in the first quarter on 3-for-16 shooting.

"We do defense first and we kind of get excited when we get a stop on defense," Phoenix G/F DeWanna Bonner said. "That's the first thing that we say when we come out the huddle; let's get a stop then a score."


While the attention is normally focused on the likes of Griner and Diana Taurasi in Phoenix, Candice Dupree is one the most unsung players in the WNBA. She showed why on Sunday by scoring a game-high 26 points. Even more remarkable was that she went into halftime with 18 points without missing a shot (9-for-9). In all, she made 10 consecutive shots, a new WNBA Playoffs record.

"It was a lot of pick and pop," Dupree said of her offensive success. "I took a lot of shots I know I can make. Shots that I've been working on the last month, month and half in practice consistently, just shot after shot after shot."


At times the Mercury made it look easy, and that's because they moved the ball so well on the offensive end -- both in half-court sets and in transition. For the game, the Mercury had 27 assists on 38 baskets, compared to just 10 assists for the Sky.

Leading the way in terms of distribution was Diana Taurasi, who finished with 11 dimes on her way to her first double-double of this postseason. She also scored 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting.