The Phoenix Mercury were confident going into their Western Conference Finals series against the Minnesota Lynx. Instead of playing a defensive, physical team like they beat in Seattle in the first round they were facing a fast paced team that they felt better suited their style. Unfortunately for Phoenix, the Lynx are also a solid defensive team in addition to being able to put points on the board.
In Game 1, it was all Lynx from the opening tip. Minnesota jumped out to an early lead and held it to the end. Phoenix was also beat badly in Game 1 of the previous round by Seattle but were able to win the next to game to advance. It remains to be seen if they can repeat that feat.
Phoenix was able to make a run in the second and third quarter with the help of Marie Ferdinand-Harris' defensive energy off the bench. They cut the Lynx lead down to as low as six in the middle of the third quarter but when point guard Temeka Johnson sub'd in for Diana Taurasi with 2:30 left, the Lynx went on a 9-2 run and put the game out of reach. The fourth quarter was a 21-12 rout.
Candice Dupree, fresh off her 20-point show and game-winning shot in Seattle was completely taken out of her game. She finished with just two points on 1-6 shooting and sat with five fouls and a frustration technical. Taurasi led the Mercury with 22 points (7-15) but the team effort was clearly on the side of Minnesota.
The Lynx killed Phoenix on the glass (42-26) and in the paint (44-32) and outworked them in every aspect of the game. Seimone Augustus led Minnesota with 21 points and was one of five players in double digit scoring.
The 28-point defeat is the largest margin in Mercury playoff history.
Game 2 of the series is in Phoenix on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. with the final Game 3 (if needed) in Minnesota on Tuesday night.