Preview: Mercury Will Test Regained Mojo Against Lynx, 7 p.m. AZT

The last time Seimone Augustus played in a WNBA game, it was in Phoenix on June 17th, 2009. By all reports, she is set to return to the floor tonight, ironically, in Phoenix.

From the Star Tribune:

The Lynx got one major hole plugged when All-Star guard Seimone Augustus was cleared to play in Thursday's game at Phoenix. Augustus has been sidelined since last July, when she had season-ending surgery on her anterior cruciate ligament, and then had an abdominal surgery in May to remove three non-cancerous fibroids.

While the 2-7 Minnesota team is under-performing against preseason expectations, so are their hosts for tonight's game.

The Mercury are coming off a two-game road trip that started with a what Coach Gaines called a "barn beating" at the hands of the Seattle Storm, who are 8-1 and making quite a habit of winning. They are scary good right now.

Phoenix followed up that loss by falling just one point short against the LA Sparks. In three games between the Sparks and Mercury, the margin of victory is +1 for Phoenix. All three games were decided by one point. Wild.

Despite the road trip results and the two-games-under-.500 record (3-5), the Mercury have found reasons to be upbeat about where they are headed.

"For six minutes in that game (against LA), I saw our team," Gaines said at this morning's shootaround. "I feel good. I feel that we know what to do and we know how to do it now. Our training camp is over."

Specifically, he's talking about Candice Dupree adjusting and learning the Mercury system, along with the adjustment he's made to get her the ball on the move and in more pick and roll situations. Corey sounded very confident for a coach whose team has yet to play a solid game all season.

Penny Taylor agreed that things were looking up and was also pleased with the team's performance in LA. She talked about pushing the ball more through advance passes and shooting with confidence, but also touched on the team's attitude changing.

"Being sure to not expect it to happen and make it happen. I think we've, for whatever reason, just been expecting it to happen because it always has and we've had the right attitude throughout the past. And this time we've just got to make more of a focus on making sure we are making it happen and we're the ones out there getting the loose balls and we're the team boxing out and getting the rebounds instead of just expecting that it's just going to all happen for us."

Taylor talked about the fatigue she's felt coming off a long season overseas and wouldn't fully reject that there's any kind of championship hangover effect, but she also added, "It does feel so long ago, the championship; we've all played another season since then."

Mostly, in a very Steve Nash kind of way, Penny just wanted to talk about the attitude and mindset getting back to where it needs to be. Taylor and Nash share very similar approaches to the game. Both are very cerebral players who think and talk more about the intangibles and hard-to-describe sense of how a team is approaching the game with the right spirit and mentality. Both also happen to be extremely tough individuals who love to win but have a healthy perspective on the game.

 

Programming Note:

Tonight's game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona with our own Kevin Ray calling the action.

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