Thursday, September 18, 2014
Behind The Scoreboard
I have to keep shoving myself to go back to the basketball courts, both on the national and international levels. The former completed their exposure on Friday night, Sept. 12, at Chicago and it was a three-game sweep. Playoff games in the WNBA are decided in three-game series except the championship finals which are the best of five.
After a four-day gap following the Western Conference Finals, the first game got underway on Sunday (September 7) at the court of the Phoenix Mercury. It was apparent that the Phoenix Mercury was anxious to return to the champion circle. Phoenix was last there in 2009.
In the first half of play, Phoenix added more playoff records – amassing the largest lead in a half at 22 points (42-20); largest field goal percentage in a quarter (75 in the second); most blocks by a single player in a half, six by forward/center Brittny Griner (eight blocks for the game), and Griner had already claimed the “first player to dunk in a WNBA playoff” in the conference finals; smallest point total by an opponent in a playoff half (20 by Chicago); most assists by an individual in a playoff half, seven from Diana Taurasi.
Sandy Brondello and her Mercury didn’t let up in the second half, going on to take the game at 83-62. This is Brondello’s first season at the helm of the Mercury.
The teams had a day’s rest then resumed in game two on Tuesday (September 9), also at Phoenix. The Mercury was rising from the beginning and the first three quarters were pretty much the same as they were in the first game. Once again it was too much Taurasi, Griner and Candice Dupree. Dupree, who had hit 10 of 10 from the field in the earlier game, wasn’t putting up that many points but was still very much in the mix. The ole one-two punch of Griner and Taurasi had 15 and 18 points, respectively, in three quarters of the game which helped to achieve their 74-51 score. The game ended with a record-setting margin of victory for a fourth quarter (29 points), 97-68, with the star forward/center sitting out the entire fourth quarter. All five Phoenix starters scored in the double figures.
It was anything but academic in game three at Chicago. It had been announced that Griner would not be on the floor in what could be the finals’ ending game. Griner had lost a tooth and suffered an eye injury in the previous game. The Sky tried to take every advantage of the void and kept the score close, tying it at 22 in the first. With nine ties and five lead changes, the half ended at 45-43, Mercury.
Both head coaches (Brondello for Phoenix and Poky Chapman for Chicago) were wired for the contests.
When it all boiled down to gravy in the fourth and an 87-82 victory for the Mercury, I think there were more than a dozen ties and about as many, or more, lead changes. The win gave the Mercury a third title and a tie with the Detroit Shock for second on the championship list. The Houston Comets set the mark with four.
I mentioned international basketball at the beginning of this column and the U.S. men have not been beaten yet in the FIBA. The women’s FIBA gets underway on September 26, I think.
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