Game Preview: Phoenix Mercury vs. Seattle Storm

Things to look for in the upcoming Mercury vs. Storm game.

Sunday, May 18, 2018

8:00 pm CT/9:00 pm ET

Twitter, JOETV (local station)

It's a battle of the future Hall of Famers: the Mercury's Diana Taurasi versus the Storm's Sue Bird. And you get to see them as part of the full slate of #WNBAAllDay games on May 20. This will also be the first time both teams will have their games streamed live on Twitter.

The Mercury dropped both preseason games against the Storm, but are riding a history-making win over the rather physical Dallas Wings on Friday night. The Storm is set to make some real strides this season, despite the team's appearance on this site's inaugural WNBA Power Rankings List (updated weekly). This is Phoenix's first road game of the season. Both teams made some significant moves in the offseason. Let's delve into some things to look for, shall we?

Disclaimer: These are possible matchups and are subject to change before tip-off. The Mercury game roster is taken from the official team website. The WNBA is moving away from traditional position labels (e.g., small forward, power forward) and simply using "guard", "forward", and "center".

Matchups

Guard: Briann January (Mercury) vs. Sue Storm (Storm)

Guard: Diana Taurasi (Mercury) vs. Jewell Loyd (Storm)

Forward: DeWanna Bonner (Mercury) vs. Breanna Stewart

Forward: Sancho Lyttle (Mercury) vs. Natasha Howard  (Storm)

Center: Brittney Griner (Mercury) vs. Crystal Langhorne (Storm)

Must-see TV

The Taurasi/Bird matchup. It never gets old! Two of the best guards in the league are still producing at high levels (they recently competed against China in a USA Basketball Women's National Team friendly). Cherish their playing time, folks, because the end -- even though it probably won't be for a few years -- is coming (Taurasi will be 36 next month, Bird will turn 38 this fall).

X-Factors

The Storm acquired defensive specialist Natasha Howard from the Minnesota Lynx in an offseason trade (I guess they'll mail her championship ring?). Rookie Jordin Canada (UCLA) was the team's first-round pick, and there is loose talk that she could take the reins from Bird eventually. Both made admirable contributions off the bench during the preseason. If they continue to perform, they could throw the Mercury Machine out of whack.

Also look for Breanna Stewart to be more aggressive this season; she comported herself quite well during the USABWNT game. Any elevation of her game could spell problems for Phoenix, though I wouldn't bet against DeWanna Bonner or any of the other battle-tested Mercury veterans (because: All-Stars). 

Brittney Griner has to be more of her usual defensive beast mode self She got into early foul trouble against Dallas (hi, Liz Cambage) and barely made it to the final buzzer without fouling out. While rookie Marie Gülich did as well as could be expected for someone playing her first professional regular-season game, veterans Camille Little and offseason acquisition Lyttle picked up a lot of the slack. If Griner continues to miss her groove early in the game, there might not be a chance for her to clean it up in the fourth quarter as she did against the Wings.

In Other News

The "Brittney Blocks" initiative by ASUS, benefiting the Phoenix Children's Hospital, and the  "BG Dunks" promotion that pays a lucky fan $5,000, are both continuing. #BeHeard

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