WNBA Handicapping: Phoenix Mercury Currently Underrated
by Raphael Esparza, the Vegas Sports Informer - 8/15/2013
When you think about the Western Conference in the WNBA, there are two teams that come to my mind as squads that can make a strong playoff push: the Minnesota Lynx, who are 17-5 (10-1 at home), and the Los Angeles Sparks, who are 17-7 (10-2 at home). However, don’t sleep on the Phoenix Mercury. Yes, I know the Mercury are 13-11 and have a sub-par home record (7-6). However, the Mercury are getting healthy, and they have the best scorer playing in the game right now in Diana Taurasi.
The Mercury just got done firing their head coach/GM, Corey Gaines, and brought in Russ Pennell, who has the Mercury actually playing defense. Their offense has been slowed down a bit since Pennell has taken over the whistle, but, again, the Mercury has offensive machine in Taurasi.
She is the big key for a playoff run for the Mercury. Taurasi has been the best scoring guard in the world for the past five years, and this year she hasn’t missed a step, averaging 21.4 points per game. She has everything you want in a scoring guard: outstanding ball skills, incredible ball smarts, and a total confidence that every shot she takes she believes will go in with no problem. I thought rookie sensation Brittney Griner would steal the show this season, but she just hasn’t been healthy. Taurasi has picked up the slack.
Since the all-star break the Mercury have won three out of their last five games, Even though I don’t see the Mercury grabbing one of the two top seeds in the West, I wouldn’t want to play them in the playoffs. Griner is getting healthy, and her presence in the middle will cause teams problems. I still believe that Minnesota will come out of the Western Conference. However, if Taurasi and Griner get hot in the playoffs, watch out. Until the Sparks show me that they can play on the road against quality teams I don’t see them beating the Lynx or even the Mercury.
The Phoenix Mercury will also be a team that I’m looking to fire away down the stretch as I believe this team will cover games on the road and at home. Getting healthy towards the end of the regular season is key, and we might get some soft numbers as the playoffs get closer.
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