Who: Los Angeles Sparks vs. Phoenix Mercury
Where: Staples Center
What: First of four meetings between these teams in the 2011 WNBA
When: 10:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. PT (WNBA Live Access)
Storyline: The Phoenix Mercury (0-1) and Los Angeles Sparks (1-1) open their season series with a Friday night battle in the Staples Center. The Mercury won eight of their last 10 meeting but the Sparks hold an overall 20-32 head-to-head advantage. In 2010 the two teams played every game down to the wire with an average margin of victory of just 3.6 points with three of the games decided by just one point.
"LA's always a tough game no matter who's on their team, no matter who's on our team, it's always a game that both teams look forward to," Diana Taurasi said about the match up.
Notes and quotes from Mercury practice this week after the jump.
Sparks: It's a great thing to have Candace Parker back on the court after playing just 35 games over the past two seasons combined. Parker has started the season well with a 15 point, 8.5 rebound per game average. She's, of course, leading the Sparks in shot attempts (26) but veteran Tina Thompson is still firing away (10-22 in two games).
Mercury: The Mercury's famed offense struggled in their first game, a loss in Seattle. Some of that credit goes to the Storm defense but 17 turnovers and nine missed layups didn't help either. The Phoenix offense is in transition from the high-speed, quick shooting we've seen since 2005 to a more traditional inside-out approach with more emphasis on defense and rebounding. Game 2 of the Mercury season will give us an window into how that transition is going.
Phoenix Mercury Following Suns' Path From Uber-Fast Team To Balance - Desert Dirt - SB Nation Arizona
Over the past few years we've watched the Phoenix Suns abandon their Seven Seconds or Less, run and gun style in favor of a more deliberate offense with various attempts at improving the defense and rebounding. In 2008-09 the Suns added an inside presence (Shaq) and went too far away from who they were. In 2009-10 they tacked back towards their offensive game (but not all the way back) and reached the Western Conference Finals.
"We had spurts of our stuff but we didn't have enough of it. You need more than just two or three minutes here."
"Defensively, we did pretty good. It was the offense that was messed up so that's a new one for us."
"We just had too many turnovers. I think we had nine missed layups. 17 turnovers, that's a lot of turnovers. Those are opportunities to score. You cut down five of those, five layups, you add it up maybe that's 12, 15 points."
"It's probably rhythm, not being with each other a lot. I'm not worried about that."
"Right now, one game, you don't know. I think you need probably five games to know about that." -- if the turnover issues are like early last season when the team took about 10 games to adjust to life with Candice Dupree instead of Cappie Pondexter.
"We schemed against Lauren (Jackson), we held her but (Katie Smith) came in and hit a couple of shots early and then she stretched us on defense because she hit her first two threes."
"We'll play them again. I'm sure we'll meet again a couple of times."
"We have a deep bench. We can play probably nine solid, maybe ten."
15 minutes for Bonner -- "That's not enough."
"We got a lot of good things, we got a lot of bad things, but that's good for the first game of the season. To go down to Seattle and play in a tough environment to team that's had our number now for awhile. I think for the most part we did a good job of executing but there were moments where there are things we need to clean up."
"We're trying to use our strength inside with Candice (Dupree) and Kara (Braxton) so we're going to try and be a little more inside-out. But our weapons have always been getting out in transition and scoring that way."
"It was good to be back on the court. It was a good atmosphere."
"I think defensively we played a really good game and there's no reason why we shouldn't be a good defensive team. We have big tall, athletic players at every position so defense and rebounding should be one of our strengths this year."
"You hold them to 43 percent shooting but you give up offensive rebounds (11), you don't close down plays where we finished that play, we get a good look on the other end. At the same time on the offensive end some forced shots from myself and some other bad shots we took leads to layups on their side."
"(Katie Smith gives them) another weapon, another person to focus on so yeah, she does change their team."