The Phoenix Mercury have competed all summer long to get to the five-game WNBA finals that decides it all.
After a 96-78 victory over the Minnesota Lynx Tuesday night, the Mercury now have the chance to a win a third title in the team’s history.
Both team’s stormed out of the gates with high intensity, energy and shot making. The Lynx shot 52 percent from the field in the first quarter but it wasn’t enough to match the red-hot Mercury’s 65 percent.
These two teams have history and each played with a chip. Even with the Mercury’s consistent shooting, precision ball-movement and lock-down defense, the Lynx cut the lead to just two points with two seconds left in the third quarter.
With the momentum shifting toward the Lynx, Diana Taurasi did the improbable. The ball was inbounded to Taurasi who was standing beyond the half-court line. The shot left her hands with .2 seconds on the game clock and it went whizzing into the basket for three points to ignite the crowd and the give the Mercury a five point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Taurasi is the heart and soul of this Mercury squad and whether it is with plays like half-court miracles or being the quarterback on the court, she gives her all night in and night out. Head coach Sandy Brondello paid high compliments about Taurasi after the game. She said,
Well, when anyone makes a big shot like that, you just think, okay, it’s their night. But look, there is no player I would rather have on my team. To me, she’s the best player in the world because what she does on both sides of the ball and how she gets teams involved and her vision. She has versatility to her game and she is a leader.”
Taurasi finished the night with 31 points on 12 of 17 shooting with seven assists.
Brittney Griner had an impactful game with a big low-post presence from the start. She was quickly drawing a double-team which opened up perimeter shots early-on in the game. Griner contributed 22 points on 9 of 12 from the floor with four assists and one blocked shot.
All five starters for the Mercury were in double digit figures for the night. DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree each contributed 14 points and Penny Taylor gave 10 points.
It is clear that every player on the Mercury has bought into Brondello’s methods; defense wins championships and from great defense, transition quickly and spread the court. In addition to that game-plan, she has the luxury of the tallest player in the league who has developed a solid low-post presence this season.
Without a doubt the Mercury are the favorites heading into the WNBA Finals. The chance at glory continues Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at U.S. Airways Center.