Who: Seattle Storm vs. Phoenix Mercury
When: 7 p.m. PST on WNBA LiveAccess (KONG TV in Seattle)
Where: KeyArena - Seattle, WA
What: In mundane terms, this is the fourth and final regular season meeting between the two, with the Storm currently up 2-1. In more exciting terms, the Storm will clinch second place in the Western Conference and home court advantage in the first round with a win. If the Mercury win, there will still be more to settle on Sunday (click here for what happens if the Mercury win).
For in-game updates, visit the SBN Seattle storystream. Follow the jump for more on the game.
Preview: WNBA.com preview
- Odeen Domingo of the Arizona Republic reports that the Mercury are hoping that resting their starters against the Tulsa Shock last night will help them as they have to face the Storm on a back end of a back to back.
- Percy Allen of the Seattle Times (filling in for Jayda Evans, who's off attending to personal matters) reports that Storm forward Camille Little is well aware of their record with the Mercury, adding motivation to get the win tonight.
- Richard Cohen astutely notes that to advance in the playoffs, the Mercury will have to win at KeyArena sometime: either tonight or sometime in the next week or so. Tonight would be best.
Key stat to watch:
Turnovers: Both of these teams have struggled with turnovers this season, with the Mercury turning it over at a rate of about 17% and the Storm doing so at a rate close to 20%. But obviously the Mercury's defense also forces less turnovers. So who might have an advantage on this front? The Storm have done a much better job taking care of the ball since Lauren Jackson returned from injury, as in not making the same egregious type of turnovers they made earlier in the year. But the cost of making live turnovers might be greater for the Storm: the Mercury are tops in the league in fast break points with 15.94 a game and once they set the tempo, it can be hard to keep up.
Key players to watch:
- Temeka Johnson, PG, Phoenix Mercury: Mercury fans have been critical of Johnson's play all season. So in a game where the focus has to be on turnovers, she becomes the focal point. Although Johnson's scoring has declined, her turnovers have too this season helping her to remain a reasonably efficient point guard (team-high 4.37 pure point rating). And she's shoulder even more of the burden tonight: Forward Penny Taylor - who is the team's second most efficient distributor with a PPR of 2.89 - has been struggling with back spasms lately and didn't play last night against the Shock.
- Tanisha Wright, SG, Seattle Storm: In the Storm's one loss to the Mercury since 2009, Wright was absent. One thing Wright brings the Storm is a secondary ball handler next to point guard Sue Bird or the primary ball handler next to Katie Smith. Her ability to turn in an efficient performance goes a long way to cutting down turnovers.