In hope of braving Storm, Mercury need to demonstrate consistency

Aug 30, 2018, 6:35 PM

Forward DeWanna Bonner prepares to pass in practice ahead of Friday’s Game 3 between the No. 5 se...

Forward DeWanna Bonner prepares to pass in practice ahead of Friday’s Game 3 between the No. 5 seed Phoenix Mercury and No. 1 seed Seattle Storm. Seattle leads the series 2-0 and can clinch its first WNBA Finals berth since 2010. (Photo by Kylee Meter/Cronkite News)

(Photo by Kylee Meter/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX — Finishing has not been a problem for the Phoenix Mercury this postseason.

Led by winner-take-all extraordinaire Diana Taurasi, the Mercury ousted the Dallas Wings and Connecticut Sun in two single-elimination games, outscoring both opponents by 14 points after halftime.

Against the No. 1 seed Seattle Storm, consistency has made all the difference as back-to-back four-point losses sent the Mercury to the brink of elimination with the series shifting to Phoenix for Game Three.

In the first two games of the series, Phoenix is a combined minus-31 points in the second and third quarters but has kept both contests close, relying on a pair of fourth quarter runs to mount comebacks before ultimately falling short.

Mercury coach Sandy Brondello attributed the inconsistencies to lapses on both ends of the floor.

“Defensive breakdowns, it starts on offense really because we’re turning the ball over, we’re not taking the best shots,” Brondello said. “We’re allowing (Seattle) to get out and run and they’re the best. They’re No. 1 in the WNBA in fastbreak points.”

Playing in the league’s semifinal round for a fourth consecutive season, Phoenix enters Friday’s game attempting to avoid a sweep, a result it has experienced in each of its past three trips.

Trailing two games to none, a short-term approach could be a key to extending their season.

“We can’t be overwhelmed about trying to win three in a row because you can’t do that. All we’re playing is one quarter, two quarters, three. It’s 40 minutes of basketball,” Taurasi said. “They’re a really good team, we know that. I think we have enough experience, enough talent to be able to come out tomorrow night and expect a win.”

Despite Seattle being on the cusp of its first WNBA Finals appearance since 2010, the Storm are not underestimating the abilities of Taurasi, center Brittney Griner and forward DeWanna Bonner, an All-Star trio that has helped Phoenix raise three championship banners since 2009.

To recently annointed league MVP Breanna Stewart, closing out the series serves two purposes.

“For us, we want to continue to get better and improve from one game to the next. As far as Phoenix (it’s about) not letting them get a head of steam. Obviously it’s gonna be hard to win on their court, but we don’t want to give them the confidence,” said Stewart.

Down but not out, the Mercury take the floor on Friday in search of the spark that could reignite their season.


Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Phoenix Mercury

Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury...

Associated Press

Diana Taurasi’s double-double leads Mercury to 1st win of 2023

Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury earned their first win of the season with a 90-81 victory against the Minnesota Lynx on Thursday night.

2 days ago

Brittney Griner, Sophie Cunningham, Diana Taurasi...

Arizona Sports

How to watch the Phoenix Mercury on 1st over-the-air game of 2023

The Phoenix Mercury play their first over-the-air television broadcast of 2023 on Thursday when they host the Minnesota Lynx.

3 days ago

Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury watches a three-point shot against the Chicago Sky durin...

Arizona Sports

Mercury’s Brittney Griner drops 27 in home return loss vs. Sky

Brittany Griner produced a double-double in her home return for the Phoenix Mercury against the Chicago Sky.

7 days ago

Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury is introduced before the WNBA game against the Chicago S...

Arizona Sports

Brittney Griner receives warm welcome back, scores on 1st possession in home return

For the first time since 2021, Brittney Griner took the court for the Mercury in Phoenix at Sunday's home opener.

7 days ago

Brittney Griner...

Arizona Sports

Mercury C Brittney Griner opens her 1st WNBA season since Russian detainment

Mercury C Brittney Griner made her WNBA regular-season return on Friday vs. the Sparks in L.A. after a nearly 10-month detainment in Russia.

8 days ago

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner smiles during the first half of a WNBA preseason basketball ...

Arizona Sports

Phoenix Mercury announce opening-night roster vs. Sparks

The Phoenix Mercury's opening-night roster is set ahead of their Friday matchup against the Los Angeles Sparks.

9 days ago

In hope of braving Storm, Mercury need to demonstrate consistency