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Seattle Storm Playoff Push: The Phoenix Mercury And Their (Newfound?) Defensive Intensity Await In Second Round

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With the Seattle Storm's 81-66 win over the Los Angeles Sparks today, they advance to the second round to face the Phoenix Mercury, the defending champion who have won the WNBA title two of the last three years led by Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor.

While the Mercury are most well-known for their up-tempo style of play first brought to the WNBA by Paul Westhead and continued by apprentice Corey Gaines, there has been a "new" development in the first round of the playoffs: the Mercury's defense.

Kevin Pelton of noted that in the first half of the Mercury's 92-73 rout of the San Antonio Silver Stars this morning just before the Storm's game, the Mercury held their opponent to 30 points on 40 possessions. While the Mercury pushed the ball after every single opportunity, the Silver Stars struggled to keep up and then faced a Mercury defense that was not only constantly shifting, but selectively giving up scoring opportunities to the Stars' less effective scorers.

For more on the Mercury's defense, see SBN Arizona's Seth Pollack's article (with pictures!) on SBN's Swish Appeal illustrating how they defended the Silver Stars.

For more on the Mercury in general, see SBN Arizona's storystream.

Tickets for the Seattle Storm's second round series beginning in Seattle on Thursday at 7 pm PST are now available at Ticketmaster.