This game is certainly winnable, but it scares me, too.
Why is it winnable?
- The Storm have won the season series two years in a row with wins in Phoenix.
- Phoenix is not a defensive team and the "rover" defense won't cut it against the Storm's starters, there are too many scorers on the roster.
- The Storm defense is focused on preventing penetration while guarding the three point line which are key strengths for the Mercury.
- The Mercury have been beat by strong post play in both their games this season. Parker and Leslie put up 51 points and 24 rebounds on them, while Sophia Young and Ruth Rile put up 36 points 15 rebounds on them. LJ and Yo will out class Smith and Willingham by a significant margin.
- Becky Hammon shot horribly but got to the line and converted 9-10, similar to what Swoopes has done for the Storm this season.
- Sidney Spencer nailed threes like they were layups, just like KG did vs. the Monarchs.
- Sue and Swin want to show up their former team mate, and Sue and LJ usually have great games vs. the Mercury.
What am I worried about?
- The Storm have struggled to play defense early on. Phoenix has some seriously streaky shooters. If Taurasi, Pondexter and Mazzante get going early the margin could be 20+ by half time and they will only get better with the confidence.
- The Storm have struggled rebounding and "Paul Ball" is focused on rebounding and running. If the Storm don't get the boards or struggle putting the ball in the basket, the Mercury will easily turn it into, at best, 5 on 3 fast breaks. The shot will be up before Yo and Swoopes get back to rebound.
- The Storm have not been a good road team other than two years ago.
Keys to the Game
- Offensive rebounds. The Storm MUST use their size and skill on the offensive boards or they will get run out of the gym.
- Control the pace. It is OK to run, but make Phoenix play at your pace, not theirs.
- Be aggressive on offense, make their defense work and let Diana get frustrated, she is vulnerable to her emotion...her greatest strength and worst enemy.
- Use your angles. Phoenix plays a lot of zone and lanes are available if you can get the ball to the right spot.
- Feed LJ down low. She has no competition down there and her shot is not falling yet. Make them double her early to free up Cash for the midrange jumper and Swoopes for the back door cut.
- Rotations are key. Phoenix is not deep and knowing when to substitute and take advantage of A-Rob on defense and KG on offense will make a big difference.
- Defensive Rebounding. Phoenix has plenty of true scorers. Give them enough opportunities to put points up on the board and they will make you pay.
- Play your high/low game. The "rover" can be run off lots of picks and LJ will draw double teams meaning that YO will have a mismatch or open shot at the basket.
- Cut, cut, cut. When their zone rotates with the ball lanes will open up. Cutters have to run them and make themselves available for passes from the perimeter and the post. There are always huge gaps in Phoenix's defense if you can get a body and the ball there at the right time.
- The three guard lineup Phoenix uses can create mismatches, and Seattle is already big. The posts need to know when to help and keep up the great work on closing angles to the basket that they have shown so far.