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Seattle Storm vs. Phoenix Mercury: Live Blog/Game Thread; Sunset Showdown Statistical Summary

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Who: The Seattle Storm (7-1) host the Phoenix Mercury (3-3)

What: Storm - Mercury games always seem to end up close no matter who's playing. The Storm won their first meeting 95-89 in overtime.

Where: Key Arena

When: 6:00 p.m. PST

TV/Radio/Internet: 

The story: Both teams are coming off wins against the Sparks, but the key here might be that the Mercury are starting to make some progress (as described by Seth Pollack in his recap of the Sparks game) while the Storm will be playing the second half of a back-to-back after winning yesterday's Sunset Showdown.

More links and statistical summary of the Sunset Showdown after the jump. Game thread will be in the comments.

Links:

Kevin Pelton's preview at StormBasketball.com

Why Svetlana Abrosimova is "precisely the kind of edge the Storm have needed"

Storm still focusing on defense

Does the WNBA Hate the NBA Finals?

Brian Agler on John Wooden before the game

 

Keys to the game:

Turnovers:

In their first meeting -- an overtime game -- the Mercury had 24 turnovers for a turnover percentage of 25.53%. Conversely, the Storm only had two turnovers between the fourth quarter and overtime. So turnovers -- both the Storm's ability to control the ball and their ability to force the Mercury's hand -- will be important.

"When we played them down there last time, they turned the ball over quite a bit and that's typically not how they like to play," said Storm coach Brian Agler.

"Playing two speeds":

Obviously against the Mercury you want to try to contain their transition offense, which is much easier to do if you're making shots and hitting the offensive glass hard. However, another part of that is attacking them offensively while also forcing them to play defense.

"Against them, you have to have the ability to play two speeds," said Agler. "You have to attack when you get the chance but you also want them to have to defend you for a period of time."

DeWanna Bonner:

"Bonner is sort of more of a focal point for them in their offense," said Agler. "Even though she doesn't start she's sort of the go-to player when she comes into games. So we'll have to put some emphasis there. But they're trying to do the same thing so it'll be a challenge."

Statistical summary from the Sunset Showdown:

Storm statistical MVP: Sue Bird

Yes, Bird was the leading scorer and very efficient at that -- 7-12 for an effective field goal percentage (counting twos and weighting her 4-8 three point shooting) of 75%. In addition, as expected, she also controlled the game very well recording 6 assists and only 1 turnover for an assist rate of nearly 29% and a pure point rating of 9.37.

Sparks statistical MVP: Candace Parker

Led the team in scoring as well and her free throw shooting certainly helped. She shot 8-9 from the line for a free throw rate of 64%.

Key statistical contributor: Le'coe Willingham

It's fine by me if you're tired of me harping on bench play, but it will probably end up making a difference in how far the Storm go. Like Abrosimova, Willingham is starting to get acclimated and her physical play and offensive rebounding has been her major contribution thus far. In 13 minutes against the Sparks, she had 3 offensive rebounds for an offensive rebounding percentage of 30.92%. Although she came from Phoenix known as a scorer, the Storm can probably live with more games of her scoring 2 points if she can continue to control the boards when the Storm starters need a rest.

Key stat: shooting percentages

As written previously, the Storm's shooting percentages have gone up quite dramatically over the past three games since the Chicago loss -- from about 40% to about 50% -- and if they can keep that up, they'll be difficult to beat.