If the season ends today for the Phoenix Mercury, how do you measure the successes and shortcomings? Ponder on that for a minute...
The superlatives this season for the Mercury have been repeated ad nauseum with their radical change and improvement that pushed them to this point; The Western Conference Finals. Right now they are one win away from continuing the season. One win away from continuing the season and living to fight another day.
That is all this game is about.
How are the Mercury going to handle a desperate situation where their backs and seasonal livelihoods are on the line?
The Minnesota Lynx are hungry, like every team, but the Mercury have to be starving. That is the mentality that is required in these unique situations.
At this point in the season it is about mental preparation and coming in with the right mentality to overcome the odds that are currently stacked against the Mercury. They have their back against the wall against the best team the WNBA has seen in years. This season the Lynx have given their lion's share of lickings to the Mercury with six wins and zero losses so far with an average margin of victory of 17.16 points per game.
All season this team has done things the hard way and it shows on the court. Despite winning game one on the road they didn't close things out at home, doing things the hard way.
All season when things looked good, the team found a way to make the game of basketball harder than it needed to be. With all the talent in the world an 0-3 start put them in the hole early. A five game winning streak was immediately followed by losing seven out of eight games. There is nothing easy about the way the Mercury play basketball and execute on the court.
They have no rhythm. In spurts, in moments, the Mercury have looked like Mozart in his element keying away the notes as Diana Taurasi makes plays and changing frequencies as Brittney Griner alters shot after shot.
As a team the Lynx rarely force the issue and have a relapse becoming selfish or individualized despite having the talent to do so, they balance everything out with teamwork.
For the past two seasons (third in 2011) the Lynx are at the top of the WNBA in terms of team assists and points scored. They are a machine in the way they execute offense, get everyone involved, and systematically defeat opponents by distributing the ball and making the right passes.
Against the Mercury in particular; the Lynx are Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Australia).
Disrupting that rhythm is key to the Mercury getting another tough win and, despite it being the done the hard way, that is exactly how the 2013 Phoenix Mercury do business. This entire season has been a prelude to this moment. Another tough challenge that could have been avoided, yes, but nevertheless is right in front of the Mercury literally at their doorstep.
In game one the Lynx leaned on the great play of Lindsay Whalen with her 20 points and 5 assists as she directed and conducted a near flawless performance.
Throughout the entire season the dynamic duo of Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus were plenty enough to win 26 games and give teams fits. Then when you add in Whalen to the equation as she carved up the defense and took everything the Mercury were willing to give them. With the ultimate conductor and masterful performers like Augustus and Moore the Lynx have marched though the Mercury all season.
In terms of talent and leadership the Mercury are the Lynx equal, but have yet to find that right tune against them.
Finding more than just moments against this tough, musically inclined Lynx team is paramount for the Mercury to continue their season. Rhythmically for the Mercury this game can get out of hand be exactly like the previous six encounters, unless they come through beating the metaphorical gong knocking the Lynx out of tune.
How do you measure the successes and shortcomings if the season ends today? Then again, how do you measure them if they win? Ponder that for a minute...