Mended Mercury Aiming to Manufacture Momentum after Olympics


The Arizona Valley seems to be overshadowed by the success of the Phoenix Suns lately. Surely, basketball fans love the underdog mentality that the Suns retained all season. But when the Suns’ season concludes, fans in Phoenix will still be able to “Rally in the Valley.”


The WNBA is set to begin its mid-season break on July 12. The first-ever WNBA Commissioner’s Cup Championship game is scheduled for August 12 following the Olympics. Mercury legend Diana Taurasi has committed to Team USA. Taurasi is a four-time Olympic Gold medalist (’04,’08,’12,’16).

The Mercury are anticipating a stable start to the second half of the regular season as they push toward a championship. The Merc went 3-1 in the first four games after Taurasi’s injury against Connecticut, lifting their record to 5-3. Phoenix would then drop their next four games, including back-to-back losses at home against the sub .500 Dallas Wings. Taurasi returned to action and lead the Mercury with 25 points in a victory over Los Angeles.

After a neck-to-neck battle against rival Minnesota on June 30th, Phoenix fell short yet again on their home floor. The two teams traded baskets the entire first half, but the Lynx pulled away in the third quarter and were able to hang on for the victory. Saturday night’s matchup between the two teams resulted in the Mercury being ran out of their own gym. Minnesota dominated in a 99-68 victory, dropping Phoenix to 7-9 on the season. The Mercury are now only 2-7 at home.


The Merc may be sitting uncomfortably at the bottom of the playoff pool, but fans are trusting the team will find their rhythm. Phoenix will play three more games before the Olympics. Who do they play? Only the two best teams in the league. The Mercury will travel to Las Vegas to play the top ranked Aces, only to head right back home to host the Seattle. Phoenix will finish the first half of the regular season in Everett, Washington, to battle the Storm once more.

Phoenix will have to rely on their Big Three, who they haven’t had healthy for much of the season. In the Mercury’s June 27 match-up with the Sparks, WNBA great Diana Taurasi returned to action and marked a tremendous milestone in league history with her 9,000 career point.


Brittney Griner, who’s averaging a team-best 19.4 points per game and 9.4 rebounds per game, continues to lead the way for Phoenix. Skylar Diggins-Smith continues to make an impact with 18.3 points per game, 3.7 rebounds per game and and a team-best 5.1 assists per game.

Although Diana Taurasi continues to be herself, supplying 15.6 points per game while dishing 4.0 per game, it’s her leadership and astounding league experience that are equally essential. Coming off an injury and being committed to the country’s Olympic team is surely an immense amount of pressure.

Albeit, each respected member of the Big Three is shooting over 80% from the free throw line, the team is only shooting 78.8%. Opponents are also shooting 84.3% from the line against the Mercury. Phoenix is also averaging 13.6 turnovers per game. It’s painfully obvious that they must start taking better care of the basketball as well.

It’s been a frustrating first half, and things will not be easier in the near future. A stride towards the championship will require a veteran spark. A rather burdensome stretch leading to the break will test this team. To prove they’re truly competing for a title this season, these games need to be close to say (or ask for) the least.

About Mike Konicek

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