It begins where it all ended last year. Full circle.
Let's be honest and fair about one thing; the Mercury were dominated by the Minnesota Lynx catapulting them to the WNBA Finals. Last year -- at U.S. Airways -- the Phoenix Mercury led at the half, but collapsed late sending the Minnesota Lynx to win the Championship. The season overall has to be seen as a success as the Mighty Mercury went to their third straight Conference Finals.
But, the bitter taste in the mouths of Diana Taurasi, DeWanna Bonner, Candice Dupree, Nakia Sanford, and Alexis Gray-Lawson is still there.
To get the 2012 season started on Sunday in Minnesota as the Champs raise their first banner is not only a chance at a little bit of redemption, but a motivator to start the year. The Lynx as a team are very similar to last year bringing back 9/11 players from the Championship. The Mercury are a rather new group only returning the five players mentioned above.
With Minnesota's elite perimeter trio of Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore, and Seimone Augustus the learning curve for the young Phoenix guards will be though. In the last meeting the trio combined to score 55 points and dish out 10 assists against the likes of Temeka Johnson and Penny Taylor.
The Mercury combat that trio with Gray-Lawson, Taurasi, Bonner, and rookie Samantha Prahalis. It will be tough to match the perimeter talent that the Lynx offer out on the court.
The Lynx are as deep and talented as any team in the 16 year history of the WNBA. They attack in many different ways making this season opener a tough outing for the Mercury.
The match-up to watch will be in the paint with Taj McWilliams-Franklin against Candice Dupree. In the two game series last year McWilliams-Franklin dominated averaging 18 PPG 5 APG and 5 RPG as the team's starting center. Slowing her down will be key in the Mercury making this a game. It will be a team effort with Avery Warley, Zane Tamane, and Nakia Sanford.
The guards are going to get theirs. Whalen is the best point guard in the WNBA and a great decision-maker with the ball in her hands. Moore and Augustus are two of the best young scorers in the league and are going to put a lot of pressure on the young Mercury backcourt.
Then again the Mercury know more about the Lynx than the Lynx would prefer. With new additions in Charde Houston and Alexis Hornbuckle on hand the team has a firsthand account of the Lynx game plan, strategies, and potentially the recipe for victory. Those two can help Coach Corey Gaines and the team prepare for the first test of the season.
The opener is on National Television Sunday, May 20th, but is for the early risers with tip-off at 9:30am local time. It gives the league the National spotlight before the NBA takes over with the playoffs. Support your Mighty Mercury from the couch as they kick off the 2012 season!