Mercury Meter: No stopping the bleeding as the Phoenix Mercury drop their third in a row

USA TODAY Sports

Penny Taylor has found her way off of the bench, out of a suit, and into a uniform, but how has that translated so far for the Phoenix Mercury as they are still trying to find the right combination's on the court...

Record: 8-7

Place In Standings: Third

Points Per Game: 83.9

Points Against: 85.8

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This season has been much like a game of basketball. It has had runs that go both ways as the Phoenix Mercury are struggling with consistency, hence their near .500 record. They started the season 0-3 before rattling off eight wins in nine games that has led into this current three game losing streak.

Injuries have played a part in the teams inconsistency as rookie Brittney Griner has been on-and-off the mend with minute restrictions, missed games, and struggling to stay on the court.

IT IS NOT MY CALL. IT IS NOT MY CALL... I WOULD LOVE FOR HER TO PLAY. -Coach Gaines on Griner's status

Add to that Penny Taylor coming back from injury and Candice Dupree having one game where she was suspended and this team has yet to get everyone on the court at the same time.

"If you are not healthy you are not winning any Championships," Diana Taurasi on the teams recent injuries. "We have to get healthy and go from there"

Getting the entire band back together has been a struggle the past few seasons with injuries and other short-comings. That will be the key to the team finding consistency because depending on the day of the week there is a different line-up, minute restrictions, or miscellaneous issues that limit the team as a whole. So far Taurasi and DeWanna Bonner have been the only constants this season, but that is not enough with the great teams around the league.

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Team Defense

Those injuries have played a major part in the teams defense this season as they are a more secure fortress with Griner inside and have become an open flood guide without her. Teams are attacking the rim and scoring with ease inside that has become a reoccurring theme game-in-and-game-out.

The team is giving up 44.5% shooting on two point shots and 37.5% shooting on three-point shooting. Teams are attacking the Mercury at the heart of the defense.

"You can say you want to work harder, but when someone is 6-5 it doesn't matter how hard you work," Taurasi on missing team height and size. "We have to find a way to cover that up and we haven't done a good job of that."

So far this season the Mercury have given up 59.3% of their points inside the three-point arc either at the rim or extended to the mid-range. Compare that to the amount of points scored from three (20.2%) and from the free-throw line (20.3%) and it is clear where the issues lie for the team defense. Inside and at the heart. They are not defending the rim.

What is the team missing?

"Obviously BG's (Griner) size, she is 6-8 and is able to come over and help," said Dupree after the loss to the Sparks. "She is hard for opponents to just drive around and she takes up a lot of space, in a good way, and right now that is what we are missing. In the past we have been without that and won games so we just have to get get back to that."

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...Speaking of that Defense

This season the Mercury are the last defensive points per game, a basement they are used to being in, and at the same time they are the second highest scoring team in the league. Those two facts were similar if not the same in 2007 and 2009 for Championships. There is a different feeling with this team though as they used to out score opponents in the past while this year the team is trying to score more that their opponents.

Over the past five years defense has ruled the WNBA Finals. In 2012 the Indiana Fever (72.3 points allowed, 2nd in the league) won the Championship behind great defense. The same thing happened in 2011 with the Minnesota Lynx (73.6, 2nd), in 2010 the Seattle Storm (73.8, 2nd), and in 2008 the Detroit Shock (74.1, 4th) all won the title behind defense.

Only the one team won a Championship without a Top 4 defense -- the 2009 Mercury with the worst defense in the league.

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Upcoming Schedule:

Wednesday @ Los Angeles Sparks at 7pm AZ Time

Sunday vs. Minnesota Lynx at 3:00pm AZ Time

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