WNBA Finals: Prolific offense vs. tough defense
PHOENIX — The Phoenix Mercury are all about offense, with All-Stars Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter leading a talented cast of scorers in search of the team’s second WNBA title in three years.
The Indiana Fever built their identity on defense, a team that finally ended Detroit’s dominance in the East and has the league’s defensive player of the year, Tamika Catchings, geared up for a one-on-one showdown with Taurasi.
“Those are two amazing players,” said Spokane’s Briann January, an Indiana rookie. “Olympians going head-to-head, going hard. They are two of the hardest-working women in this game. They go at it. Their passion for the game is clear when you watch them play.”
The teams open the best-of-5 series tonight at US Airways Center, where Indiana beat the Mercury earlier this season.
To help make certain Phoenix has a loud homecourt advantage, Suns general manager Steve Kerr bought all 7,000 upper-level tickets and planned to give them away. He said he took a cue from Larry Bird, who bought 9,000 upper-level seats for Indiana’s deciding game of the Eastern finals against defending WNBA champion Detroit.
“Both of us were part of championship teams and understand the importance of a packed house,” Kerr said.
Catchings calls Phoenix “a great running team” that shoots the ball well.
Taurasi calls the Mercury’s preferred style “chaos.”
Phoenix led the WNBA in scoring at 92.8 points per game while allowing a league-high 89.1 points per contest. Indiana allowed 73.6 points per game.
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