By Patrick Ralph
For the Phoenix Mercury, their offense and play of their All-Star trio have been integral to their success this season. On Tuesday night in the first round of the WNBA playoffs, the story remained the same as the Mercury blew past the Dallas Wings 101-83 to advance to the second round.
One of the keys for the Mercury coming into this game was their ability to knock down shots, especially from behind the three-point line. As one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league this year, Phoenix shot nearly 45 percent from beyond the arc in the win over Dallas.
The Mercury’s three-point barrage against Dallas’ poor perimeter defense was highlighted by Diana Taurasi, who made six three-pointers and finished with 26 points in the contest.
Taurasi’s outstanding performance, one that WNBA fans have become all too familiar with in elimination games, also included a team-high 12 assists as Phoenix’s ball movement helped both spread out and get open looks against Dallas’ defense. The Mercury finished the game with 28 assists.
Another key to Phoenix’s win on Tuesday night was the play of its big 3, as Taurasi, DeWanna Bonner, and Brittney Griner combined to score 72 points in the win over Dallas. Bonner finished with a double-double of 29 points and 12 rebounds, while Griner poured in 17 points.
While the Mercury shot an impressive 54 percent from the field in the contest, it was not only their All-Star trio who contributed to that strong shooting performance. Starting in place of the injured Sancho Lyttle, Stephanie Talbot had a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds in the win for Phoenix. Talbot, who averaged only 3.7 points and 1.9 rebounds per game during the regular season, will need to continue contributing at a high level if Phoenix is going to make a deep run in the playoffs.
While it was not Phoenix’s strongest defensive performance, the Mercury held Dallas to 21 percent shooting from behind the three-point line and forced the Wings into 10 turnovers in the game. Other than Liz Cambage and Skylar Diggins-Smith, no other Wings player scored in double figures on Tuesday night.
The Mercury will now fly across the country to face the Connecticut Sun on Thursday night in a rematch of last year’s second round matchup in Connecticut, which the Mercury won 88-83 to advance to the semifinals. Phoenix, who won the season series 2-1 against the Sun, will be looking to repeat the same feat on Thursday in Uncasville.