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Seattle Storm Vs. Phoenix Mercury: Three Keys To Clinching Second Place

The Phoenix Mercury have lost to the Seattle Storm in 9 of their last 10 minutes, but it's not as if they haven't come close a few times.

So how might they win?

Their win in Phoenix earlier this season came with the caveat that neither Storm center Lauren Jackson nor guard Tanisha Wright were playing. So it's not clear how much we can take from that.

And then there's that whole matter of anyone trying to win in KeyArena.

Most important though, the Mercury expect to have forward Penny Taylor back in the lineup after sitting out in Tulsa due to back spasms, according to Kevin Pelton of StormBasketball.com.

Penny Taylor did not play against the Shock, but is likely to return to the lineup tonight...Taylor missed two games last week with back spasms. She returned to the lineup Saturday against Los Angeles only to reaggravate her back shortly after halftime. Taylor has practiced this week, however, and should be ready to go after taking last night off.

That alone is big for the Mercury, given their biggest weakness.

Summary of three keys for the Seattle Storm (via Swish Appeal):

  • Turnovers: Both of these teams struggle with turnovers, but the Storm will need to focus on keeping theirs down in order to help prevent the Mercury from getting out in transition. As noted at Swish Appeal, Taylor will help the Mercury in that regard.
  • Tanisha Wright's defense and ball handling: The Storm are almost always best when Wright is able to share the burden of running the offense, allowing point guard Sue Bird to alternate between scorer and distributor more comfortably.
  • Rebounding: The Storm figure to have a rebounding advantage over the Mercury, but they've been beaten on the boards recently by some of the worst rebounding teams in the league. Pelton points out that one source of rebounding for the Mercury is reserve forward DeWanna Bonner, who is the Mercury's best defensive rebounder and has to be considered a front-runner for WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year. That means that the Storm have to maintain their rebounding intensity throughout the game.