Phoenix Mercury guard Kia Nurse was assessing her recent scoring surge when she said this week that, “It’s never too late to find your stroke.”
Turns out that adage also applies to the red-hot Mercury.
Under .500 before the Olympic break, Phoenix is riding a seven-game winning streak entering Saturday’s matinee against the host Indiana Fever in Indianapolis. The latest victory in that string, Tuesday’s 103-83 home romp against the Chicago Sky, helped the Mercury (16-10) clinch their 12th playoff berth in the past 13 seasons.
“I said after the Olympic break, we knew we needed to get better and to do it collectively as a team, and that’s what we’re doing,” Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said. “We’re buying in and playing together at both ends of the floor.”
While the Mercury kick off a three-game road trip Saturday, the Fever (6-19) will conclude a four-game homestand with a pair of Labor Day weekend games against Phoenix. The teams also are set to meet Monday night.
Indiana, which has lost three of its last five games, is coming off Tuesday’s come-from-behind 74-72 win against the playoff-hopeful Los Angeles Sparks. The Fever closed the game on a 10-0 run over the final 2:51.
Kelsey Mitchell paced the team with 25 points, while Teaira McCowan contributed 15 points and a career-high-tying 19 rebounds for her 10th double-double of the season.
“When I’m getting rebounds, I’m kicking it out to my teammates and they’re getting down the floor,” McCowan said. “That’s the equation.”
In addition to the improved team play Brondello cited, Phoenix also has excelled thanks to its scoring depth. Nurse got in on the action Tuesday, scoring 21 points after netting just 28 points in her previous six games.
“Sometimes when you’re struggling to find your confidence, you just need to have one or two good games and it comes back,” Nurse said. “There’s a new opportunity to have another game every 1-2 days, so I’m trying to take advantage of those opportunities knowing we’re ending the regular season and going into the playoffs.”
Behind 25 points from Brittney Griner, Phoenix edged visiting Indiana 84-80 on Aug. 17 in the teams’ first matchup this season.
–Field Level Media