|Playoff matchup finds Mercury hot, Wings definitely not|
The Phoenix Mercury are hot and the Dallas Wings are playing on a wing and a prayer entering Tuesday's first-round game of the WNBA playoffs at Arizona State's Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe.
"I said it was all about getting that momentum at the right time," Phoenix coach Sandra Brondello said after the Mercury closed out the regular season winning four straight games, capped by Sunday's 96-85 win over the visiting New York Liberty.
Dallas forward Glory Johnson, after her team fell 84-68 on Sunday in Seattle, the team's 10th loss in its last 11 games, said, "We have to focus and not worry about anything and just play."
The single-elimination game pitting the fifth-seeded Mercury (20-14) and the eighth-seeded Wings (15-19) was moved from the Talking Resort Arena to ASU because of a concert scheduling conflict.
The teams opened the WNBA season on May 18 against each other at the Talking Resort Arena in Phoenix, with the Mercury winning 86-78. Dallas, which went 1-2 against the Mercury this season, looks like it will start and end its season in the Phoenix area based on its current state.
Fred Williams was fired as head coach with four games remaining and the Wings lost all those games, three on the road, under interim coach Taj McWilliams-Franklin.
After starting the season 14-9, Dallas went 1-10 down the stretch. During that difficult time, star players Liz Cambage and Skylar Diggins-Smith each missed games with injuries. Both are playing now, but the Wings still can't regain the winning touch they had up to mid-July.
"We're going to rest tonight, practice (Monday) and we'll get ready to play," McWilliams-Franklin said after Sunday's loss at Seattle. "When you throw up the ball with a one-game series, it's anybody's game. (Phoenix) played today and we played today so we both have the same amount of rest. Whether we fly or not doesn't matter because we've been doing it forever."
Phoenix enters Tuesday's game clicking on offense.
The Mercury had 24 assists in the win over the Liberty on Sunday, giving them a franchise-record 20.6 assists per game average this season (699 total). The Mercury surpassed the previous franchise record of 20.2 assists per game set in the 2010 season (686 total).
Phoenix also finished the season with 288 made 3-pointers, setting a franchise record for most 3-pointers made in a season. The previous mark was 283 in 2007.
"You obviously want to finish as high up as you can," said veteran guard Diana Taurasi, who had five assists against the Liberty and made four 3-pointers, giving here 106 this season, second most in WNBA history behind her 121 in 2006.
"There was a point there when we thought we were going to be in that top two, top four, but you have to win regardless. I think we're playing well.
"I think we found our groove a little bit on the things that we want to do. Getting a home game, but we still have to go out there and play hard and play really well to win."