The Phoenix Mercury and their new style of play with small-ball have paid very good dividends after the departure of Tina Charles unexpectedly.
The team has won six out of its last 10 games and has now jumped into the six-seed spot in the playoff race.
Tonight’s matchup, a home win against the Los Angeles Sparks coming into the game as the current six seed, Phoenix was able to top the Sparks 90-80 in a game that wasn’t even that close at all.
Phoenix looks like a totally different team filled with confidence in small-ball, and tonight both ends of the floor were the sharpest it’s been all season long.
The second quarter the Mercury jumped on the Sparks with a 28-15 quarter and led at the half 54-32.
The defensive end was more impressive as the Mercury continue to be outsized in the paint, but continue to find ways to compete and get the job done with Sophie Cunningham and Brianna Turner.
Head Coach Vanessa Nygaard has done an excellent job with her rotations being short-handed without Diamond Deshields and of course star Center Britney Griner.
We asked Coach Nygaard after the game what was her message at the half after having such a big lead? she said “The message was to stay focused and we made adjustments to counter what they were doing to us”
Mercury’s defense held the Sparks to a whopping 3-21 from three-point range and outrebounded them in the second half by double digits.
“It was a great win for us, “ Nygaard added.
The only blemish on the game was the fourth-quarter ejection of star point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, after jawing at the referees in a heated manner was given her walking papers.
The home crowd got very loud and voiced it displeasure at the ref being somewhat sensitive to Diggins’s complaint at calls, stood and booed the entire time it took for the refs to toss Smith out and allow the Sparks to shoot the technical.
When asked if she was ok with Skylar getting the tech and being tossed “No we don’t want Sky to ever get tossed and I should have gotten the second tech for her, that was my bad” coach Nygaard commented after the game.
The road to a playoff birth is starting to find that light at the end of the tunnel, as Shay Peddy said after the game “we are a second-half team, like you saw last year so here we are again” The Mercury is in great position to make a run.