clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Mercury Meter: Battle tested and ready for the playoffs the Phoenix Mercury have handled every test laid in front of them

New, comments

This. Is. War.

USA TODAY Sports

Record: 26-4 (.867)

Place In Standings: First (+2.5 on Minnesota)

Points Per Game: 84.27 (1st)

Points Against: 74.20 (2nd)

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

Gritty. That is the way the Phoenix Mercury played this past week showing that they are style, and substance. For 16 games the team won by a wide margin and dominated the league. The last five games however have been a grind for the Mercury winning by 3.4 points per game, going 4-1 in that span. A loss to the Minnesota Lynx, a test from the Fever, an ugly win against the Dream, an overtime affair with the San Antonio Silver Stars, and a Diana Taurasi buzzer-beater to avenge the loss to the Lynx.

While it is fun to watch the Mercury win by 20 at home against a lowly non-contender it is the games against the Fever, Lynx, and Silver Stars that prep the team for the playoffs.

Each game represented a different type of challenge.

Each game was against a playoff caliber team and in all likelihood a playoff team.

What was most impressive about the Mercury's most recent win, avenging the loss to the Lynx that ended the streak, was how the game ended. All season the Mercury have struggled on the glass. Even during the winning streak the team as a whole was out-rebounded by most opponents. Candice Dupree is a skilled rebounder and Brittney Griner is a force of nature, but as a unit the Mercury are inconsistent at best on the glass.

In the win over the Lynx at home rebounding was the story. On two occasions in the final two minutes of the game the Mercury secured multiple rebounds on a possession to earn the comeback victory. DeWanna Bonner pulled down some fierce rebounds and Griner kept the ball alive. Down the stretch against the Lynx when the team needed a rebound or a defensive stop the overall confidence and atmosphere were not positive.

When they had the ball the confidence was there that they could score when needed, but despite the improvements defensively this year the perception on the Mercury is still that they are lacking on the defensive end.

Pulling out a win the way they did against the Lynx is more of a sign of defensive improvement than an entire season of being in the top two defensively in points allowed. Playing ugly is never ideal, but if you can win ugly then that becomes a weapon in the grind that is the playoffs.

The last five games were a test for the Mercury and they passed with with an 80% grade heading into a few tune-ups before the real season begins.

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

Mercury Versus The Best...

This season the Mercury are 9-2 against the current Western Conference Playoff teams (2-1 v. SA, 4-1 v. LA, 3-1 v. MIN)

This season the Mercury are 7-0 against the current Eastern Conference Playoff teams (1-0 v. ATL, 2-0 v. WAS, 2-0 v. IND, 2-0 v. CHI)

Right now the Mercury are slated to take on the Silver Stars in the first round. They have been a thorn in the teams side all season with multiple overtime games and are the only team to beat them at home this season. Worst possible scenario for a round one opponent before an eventual duel with the Lynx in the Western Conference Finals.

Not too bad overall: 16-2 against potential playoff foes with only one loss at home to any tea.

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

...and Let's Compare The Mercury/Suns.

At this point there are only four games remaining with 88.2% of the season completed so far. The Mercury have the best record in franchise history, the longest home winning streak in franchise history, the second longest winning streak in WNBA history, and have already clinched home court throughout the playoffs...

At this stage the Phoenix Suns were 43-29 in the fifth game of their six-game winning streak, which was the most all season. They were clawing towards the playoffs in a three team battle for two spots.

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

Upcoming Schedule

Tuesday @ New York Liberty (Madison Square Garden) at 4:00 p.m. AZ Time

Wednesday @ Atlanta Dream at 4:00 p.m. AZ Time (NBA TV)

Saturday vs. Los Angeles Sparks at 7:00 p.m. AZ Time (NBA TV)

Sunday @ Seattle Storm at 6:00 p.m. AZ Time (NBA TV)