Later on tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2, Brittney Griner makes her season debut against the Minnesota Lynx. Griner is returning from a 7-game suspension to start the season.
Though the Mercury are currently third in the Western Conference, they’re still trying to find their way into a rhythm; Phoenix has yet to win two games in a row this season. Interestingly enough, since beating the Stars by five in their opening game, each of their wins has been by double digits.
One of those wins came against Minnesota, when they beat the Lynx by 15 at home. Unlike the Mercury, Minnesota has made a habit of winning this season. They have yet to lose following a win this season, and hope to continue that trend and avenge their loss to Phoenix tomorrow night.
This time around, though, the Lynx will have to deal with Brittney Griner inside, who served the last of her seven-game suspension in Phoenix’s last contest against the Stars. The 2014 Defensive Player of the Year will return to action tomorrow, which will immediately bolster Phoenix’s defense, ranked seventh in the league in points allowed.
Minnesota only scored 66 points in the last matchup, and the Mercury will likely have to reproduce that defensive effort to secure a win against a team that has only been held below 70 points once this season.
The Lynx definitely have the momentum heading into the game, coming off a 76-73 victory over the Seattle Storm. Once down by 18 points, Minnesota outscored the Storm 22-11 in the fourth quarter.
Damiris Dantas’ three-point play in the waning seconds of the game gave the team their first lead since 2-0 in the first, but that lead would be the one that ended the game.
On the other hand, Phoenix is coming off a tough loss to San Antonio, gaining the dubious honor of being the first team to lose to the Stars this season. The Mercury dug themselves into a hole early, shooting only 18 percent in the first quarter.
They fared much better in the third quarter, outscoring San Antonio 27-16 to take a six point lead. But with 28 seconds left and the game tied 71-71, Jia Perkins of the Stars hit a go-ahead three-pointer, and the Mercury wouldn’t score for the rest of the game.
The Lynx will be looking for revenge twice over after losing the game that was supposed to offer retribution against the Mercury after Phoenix eliminated Minnesota from the playoffs last year.
Meanwhile, Griner’s return to action should offer a glimpse of the future of Phoenix’s season, who will finally have their defensive anchor back in the middle. Both teams have something to prove, which should make this game an exciting matchup.