Mercury Meter: Down to the final seven games and things are just heating up

Christian Petersen

It has been an imperfect storm for the Phoenix Mercury against not only the Seattle Storm, but against playoff teams in general this season. What happened this week and where are the Mercury at going forward?

Record: 14-13 (4-2)

Place In Standings: Third (+1.0 on Seattle)

Points Per Game: 81.0 (77.6)

Points Against: 82.0 (72.6)

******************************

It seems as soon as the Phoenix Mercury gain some momentum, they hit a wall, and then have to figure everything out all over again. The team has had high peaks like winning three games in a row at home with strong defense, but the momentum gets snapped with their low points like a loss to a potential playoff team like the Seattle Storm or the San Antonio Silver Stars.

Overall the team is comfortable in the playoff hunt as the third seed today (1.0 games ahead of Seattle) and four games ahead of the Silver Stars for the fourth spot. With seven games remaining making the playoffs is realistic, but staying in that third spot is not a given.

This season the Mercury are now a combined 2-9 against the other three playoff teams. This loss to the Storm was the perfect storm to give them the first season sweep of the Mercury since 2010. In losses this season the two common denominators that have plagued the Mercury have been turnovers (16) and losing the rebounding battle (-4). Teams like the Minnesota Lynx, Los Angeles Sparks, and the Storm do that to them. It does not make sense that the Mercury lost this game when you look at the shooting (47.1%), free-throws (20 points), sharing the ball (20 assists) alluding to a positive offensive performance, but that is why this game is played on both sides of the ball.

******************************

The Importance of the Third Spot...

As mentioned above the Mercury are 2-9 against the other Western Conference Playoff teams. Adding in their performances against the Eastern Conference Playoffs teams they are 6-10 against teams they may face in the race to a Championship. Obviously they have done better against the East this season.

Specifically with the West, it is important for the Mercury to secure the third spot in the playoffs with their combined record against Minnesota (0-5) and Seattle (0-3). Avoiding the Lynx in the first round and giving themselves an opportunity in the first round to make it to the Conference Finals is a strategy that has to be discussed. Eventually there has to be a meeting of the Lynx to get to the ultimate goal, but pushing that out with some momentum in a series against Los Angeles could benefit them. Then again, they may not be as good this season as most thought...

******************************

...and Quality Defense.

Where did it go?

After the three game winning streak against the worst team in the West and the injury riddled defending Champs there was mention of "grains of salt." Since then the team has reverted back to their old ways giving up 85.0 points per game losing three out of four games. These three games was an unsavory call-back to the turnover prone, poor rebounding, and poor defending Mercury teams of recent years and even earlier this season.

Was the defense a product of a new coach?

Was it a product of playing against inferior competition?

Were the first three games the outlier and the last three games the norm? Or is it the inverse of that?

Again, like I have said numerous times this season; this team has more questions than answers and more potential than substance on the year. How can that change in a week, and furthermore, over the final seven games of the season?

******************************

Upcoming Schedule:

Saturday vs. Connecticut Sun at 7 p.m. AZ Time

More from Bright Side Of The Sun:

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Bright Side Of The Sun

You must be a member of Bright Side Of The Sun to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bright Side Of The Sun. You should read them.

Join Bright Side Of The Sun

You must be a member of Bright Side Of The Sun to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bright Side Of The Sun. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker