Plenty has changed for the Phoenix Mercury since the last time they faced the Minnesota Lynx on July 24th. A new coach and a new scheme propelled Phoenix into the WNBA playoffs. The Lynx gave them a painful reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The Lynx, winners of 13 straight games against Phoenix seemed to do no wrong in their 85-62 win over the Mercury in game one of the Western Conference Finals. After taking an eight point lead after the first quarter, Minnesota outscored Phoenix 20-6 in the second to take complete control with a 45-22 lead at halftime.
"I think this team was focused," said Seimone Augustus. "We are going to enjoy this win for the moment and come Saturday morning when we have to step back on the court for practice, we need to figure out what we need to do for the next 40 minutes of basketball."
The last time the Phoenix Mercury defeated the Lynx was August 9, 2011. Since then, Minnesota has rattled off 13 straight victories including sweeping them in the 2011 Western Conference Finals.
Augustus played shut down defense on Diana Taurasi holding her to 4-for-14 shooting and in the process forcing the all-star to loose her cool in the fourth quarter when the two who played on the same AAU team in 6th grade went nose to nose that ended in a kiss from Taurasi.
There is no question, the Lynx are in the heads of the Mercury and with game 2 a mere three days away, there isn't a whole lot of time for adjustments for Phoenix.
"Minnesota is beatable," said head coach Russ Pennell. "We're gonna have to get out of our own way. We didn't get back quite as well. I thought we were a half-step slow tonight, running in the sand a little bit."
Lindsay Whalen and Maya Moore both scored 20 points to lead the way while Augustus added 18.
Game 2 shifts to Phoenix Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.