PHOENIX — When comparing Game 2 and Game 3 of the WNBA Finals, the Phoenix Mercury looked like two completely different teams.
Though hard fought, the Mercury had an exhilarating game when they topped the Chicago Sky 91-86 in OT Wednesday. Four Mercury players ended that night with points in the double digits.
However, that same performance was foreign in Game 3 as Chicago blew Phoenix out by 36 points. Only one Mercury player, Brittney Griner, scored over 10 points.
Now it's down to the wire. One more win and the Chicago Sky are the 2021 WNBA champions in the best-of-five series.
So what needs to happen for Phoenix to win it all? Here are a couple suggestions.
No more passive defense
The Sky shot 50% from the field as a team in Game 3. In the Mercury's Game 1 loss, Chicago made 52% of their shots.
Whenever Chicago makes at least half of their shots, it seems to be curtains for Phoenix. As long as the Mercury can keep the Sky's shooting percentage down to 45% or less, than a win could be foreseeable.
In the words of the infamous, late college basketball coach Pat Summitt, "offense sells tickets, defense wins games, rebounding wins championships."
By that logic, the Mercury will need to get more aggressive in the paint. Defensive bombs Griner and Brianna Turner combined for 9 rebounds on Friday, a stark comparison to their combined 18 rebounds in Game 2.
Shooting has to be on fire
It's no secret that an even decent offensive performance from the Mercury was a sight unseen in Game 3.
Phoenix went 16-for-62 from the field, shooting just 25%. Griner was the only player to score in the double digits with 16 points but even that was just seven shots made of 17 attempted.
The Mercury made their way to the Finals by being able to answer from the offensive side when it really mattered. The same energy will be needed from players like Sophie Cunningham, who shot 75% from the three in Game 2 and Diana Taurasi.
The Mercury will look to make a come back in Game 4 on Sunday in Chicago. Tip off is at noon MST and fans can watch on ESPN.
Watch more of the latest sports videos on the 12 News YouTube channel. Don’t forget to subscribe!