Web Editorial Associate
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If you clicked on this scouting report thinking that it had to be a mistake since the Lynx have already played the Mercury twice this season, I’m sorry to say you are wrong.
Minnesota will battle it out with Phoenix once again on Tuesday night, marking the third contest in eight games between the two WNBA Western Conference foes.
“Even though we play them three times in eight games, a lot happens in between even if it’s only a couple of games, there’s a lot mentally that goes on in those five or six days before you play the team again,” Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said.
Having prevailed in both matchups already this season, Minnesota will look to make it a third straight against the team that they beat in the Western Conference Finals last season.
Before watching or listening to two of the best teams in the WNBA go at it for 40 minutes, keep these fun factoids in mind:
– After starting the season on the wrong foot, going 0-4, Phoenix has picked up their play as of late, winning their last 2-out-of-3 games and in convincing fashion.
– A big part in Minnesota’s undefeated start to the season has been their willingness to share the ball with one another. The Lynx are sitting second in the league in assists per game with 20.4 per contest.
– One thing Phoenix has done a great job all season of doing is scoring the basketball. Fortunately for Minnesota, however, the defending WNBA Champions have shown to be pretty good at preventing basketballs from going in the hoop. The Mercury rank second in the league in points per game with 85.7, while the Lynx are second in the league in points allowed, only giving up 72.6 per ballgame.
“Our defense gets us going, so when we’re off on defense, we’re off on offense,” Lynx’ center Sylvia Fowles said.
Coming Off Of…
The Mercury ran into some trouble on the road in Seattle on June 3rd when they took on the Storm. Jewell Loyd and company controlled Phoenix from the tip and won rather easily 95-81. The Mercury gave up 14 offensive rebounds and allowed Seattle to shoot 50 percent or better from the field and 3-point range. Penny Taylor had 19 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals. Diana Taurasi had a rather quiet game with eight points and three assists, while center Brittney Griner notched 13 points, six boards and two blocks on the night.
Minnesota turned in yet another great performance against the Dallas Wings on June 4th, beating the team formerly known as the Tulsa Shock 80-63. Every starter for the Lynx played well and scored in double-figures, plus Minnesota tallied 25 assists on 34 made field-goals in the game.
These two teams were last across the court from one another on May 25th, and it was Minnesota who walked away with the victory on the Mercury’s home floor, 85-78.
Taylor was about the only one who put on a good performance for Phoenix, scoring 25 points. Taurasi struggled shooting the ball and went 3-for-15 from the field, and Griner was surprisingly a non-factor, only contributing four points, two rebounds and two blocks.
“We don’t worry about the matchup, we’re able to not give up too much size and I just think Sylvia defensively, just having her in the paint, whether she’s guarding Griner or in a help defense situation, she’s obviously physically imposing,” Reeve said of the Fowles-Griner battle in the post.
Maya Moore was on fire and led all scorers with 34 points on an impressive 11-for-18 from the field. Fowles has a nice game with 18 points and eight boards and Lindsay Whalen did a great job spreading the court with seven assists and two steals.
Key Matchup: Lindsay Whalen vs. Penny Taylor
One player who has consistently performed well for Phoenix all year has been their veteran 6’1 guard. Through seven games, Taylor is averaging 14.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists and two steals per game.
Whalen has also been plenty effective for the Lynx and has really been efficient with her time on the court. Shooting at a career-best 56.8 percent, Minnesota’s veteran guard out of the University of Minnesota is averaging 9.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and four assists per matchup.
MIN: G- Whalen, G- Augustus, F- Moore, F- Brunson, C- Fowles
PHX: G- Taylor, G- Taurasi, F- Bonner, F- Dupree, C- Griner