Friday, May 20 – 7 p.m. PT
Talking Stick Resort Arena | Phoenix, AZ
WNBA League Pass
Seattle and Phoenix are two of the four remaining winless teams in the WNBA. The Storm is 0-1 after dropping its season opener at Los Angeles last Sunday, while the Mercury was blown out at Minnesota on opening night and lost a close game against Indiana on Wednesday. Friday will be the home opener for Phoenix, the team that a majority of WNBA general managers picked to win the title in a preseason survey.
The Storm holds a 36-26 all-time record against Phoenix, including an even 16-16 mark on the road. In the last couple years, though, the Mercury has dominated this matchup, winning nine straight games vs. Seattle. The last time the Storm beat Phoenix was in 2013, when Seattle won all four head-to-head matchups.
Led by 6-9 center Brittney Griner, Phoenix has been one of the league’s top three teams in points allowed per 100 possessions each of the last two years. Griner averages 3.5 blocks per game for her career, including 25 games of five blocks or more. She was No. 1 in the WNBA in defensive plus-minus rating in 2014. This season, however, Phoenix has given up an average of 96.0 points through two games, tied for the most in the league. The Mercury’s first two opponents combined to shoot 50.0 percent from the field.
As one of her many strengths, Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi thrives at drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line. Since 2009, Taurasi has led the league in fouls drawn twice (197 in 2010 and 224 in 2013) and been in the top three on two other occasions. Now in her 12th WNBA season, Taurasi averages 20.2 points per game for her career.
Storm forward Breanna Stewart had one of the best rookie debuts in WNBA history last Sunday, scoring 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting with six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Among first-year players, Stewart’s 23 points in her debut rank third all-time behind only Candace Parker’s 34 points in 2008 and Cynthia Cooper’s 25 in 1997. Stewart was especially dominant in the third quarter, scoring on six of Seattle’s first eight possessions and finishing the period with 13 points. It took her just 20 minutes of action to score 20 points.
Taurasi and Sue Bird, two good friends who happen to be two of the best perimeter players in league history, will duel on Friday in Phoenix. After sitting out last season, Taurasi has looked solid through two games, averaging 25.0 points and 5.5 assists per contest (both top five in WNBA). This summer, Bird and Taurasi will team up in their fourth consecutive Olympics and go for another gold medal.
- Veteran wing Jenna O’Hea is now with the Storm after missing the season opener due to concluding overseas commitments. O’Hea won a championship in France with Lattes Montpiellar, helping her team to victory in the series-clinching game three last Sunday. Last season, her first with the Storm, she was one of three Seattle players that appeared in all 34 WNBA games.
- Following Friday’s game at Phoenix, the Storm will host the defending champion Lynx at 4 p.m. on Sunday in its home opener. Six of the 12 players representing the United States at this summer’s Olympics will be on the court Sunday night.