The Mercury were looking pretty darn good with decisive wins over the Tulsa Shock and Minnesota Lynx and Friday were half-way home to another win over another Western Conference foe. But the San Antonio Silver Stars exposed the Mercury's soft interior defense and mucked up the game with fouls and physical play, which prevented Phoenix from running and getting into a rhythm. A 15-point lead was lost in the 3rd quarter and the Mercury weren't able to keep their composure and get the home win.
Phoenix will have to toughen up inside if they want to get back on track as they face number pick, rookie center Tina Charles.
Charles is off to a great start to her WNBA career, averaging 15.5 points and 10.9 rebounds and she tore through the LA Sparks on Friday with a 26-point, 19-rebound performance. Unless coach Gaines uses Nicole Ohlde a lot more than he has been, the team will rely heavily on their zone defense to contain Charles. Tangela Smith is no match for these physical centers.
The Sun have a 7-3 record and lead the Eastern Conference, but their schedule hasn't been impressive. They only have one really solid win (Indiana) and one other win over a team with a winning record (Washington) and are 1-3 on the road, with the only win coming Friday over the Sparks without Candace Parker.
This afternoon's game will be a test for the Connecticut Sun and a game that the Mercury (5-6) also need to keep their season moving in the right direction.
Penny Taylor is officially a game-time decision (ankle), but I would be shocked if she plays. We will update her status as more is known.
This game will be broadcast on NBA TV nationally and on Fox Sports Arizona locally. SB Nation Arizona's own Kevin Ray will be calling he game.