Get ready for guns a blazin’. Smarting from a 28-point loss to Phoenix on Saturday, the Detroit Shock are all too eager to get tonight’s Game 3 underway, even if it meant a 2,000-mile trip in between.
The Shock have been embarrassed before in these playoffs, but they’re not the defending champions for nothing.
Upset at themselves after watching the Game 2 film, the Shock are determined to come out firing in all facets, and Monday they didn’t seem to care who it was against or on whose floor.
“I wouldn’t expect anything else,” Mercury guard Diana Taurasi said.
The rest of the Mercury aren’t either, but a team which has struggled against the bigger, physical teams in the league — starting with Detroit — must now prepare itself for a ticked-off team.
The Mercury did the same to Detroit, except the Mercury felt they didn’t play well and still stayed in contention in Game 1 before blowing off The Palace at Auburn Hills’ roof in Game 2.
Afterward, the Shock looked in the mirror and saw a team they felt checked out physically and mentally too early.
“I am a competitor and if I see someone hanging their head I’m going after them even harder,” Shock forward Swin Cash said. “And that’s what Phoenix did. They smelled that we were hanging out heads a little bit and it just made them go a little harder.”
Momentum and its synonyms were thrown around often at Mercury and Shock camp Monday. Figuring the Mercury won handily in Game 2 and have two home games in which to sweep and end the series, they were informally handed the momentum, but both sides simply stayed away.
“Momentum is a funny thing sometimes,” Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer said. “The littlest things can change it. In the course of a game, a missed shot or a bad call can change it. In the course of a series, a newspaper article or a team-bonding experience can change things one way or the other, so I don’t hold too much experience in it.”
Motivation was the other buzzword of choice Monday. As if trying to win a championship wasn’t enticing enough (it is, according to the Mercury), the Mercury are counting on Detroit flying all over the place in an attempt to right Saturday’s wrongs.
Phoenix stood up to Detroit in Game 2, and now the baby Mercury will try putting Detroit in a corner. Only if they can climb above the clawing, kicking and screaming of a surly Shock team bent on biting back.
“That’s the team they are,” Taylor said. “I’ve heard they struggle sometimes with motivation, but after a 30-point loss you don’t need much more.”
Mercury vs. Shock
All games on ESPN2
Game 1: Detroit 108, Phoenix 100
Game 2: Phoenix 98, Detroit 70 (Series tied 1-1)
Game 3: Today at Phoenix, 6 p.m.
Game 4: Thursday at Phoenix, 5:30 p.m.
Game 5: Sept. 16 at Detroit, 1:30 p.m.* * If necessary
Outlook: Shock — Mercury fans shouldn’t gush too heavily over the team’s lopsided win in Game 2. The Shock’s 28-point loss tied a Finals record for largest point differential, but the Shock suffered 20-point losses twice last year against Sacramento in the Finals and came back to blow out the Monarchs in Games 2 and 4 before winning in Game 5 in Detroit. They also got hammered by 22 points in Game 1 against New York in the first round this year, but won the final two games. Same thing against Indiana.
Mercury — It’s hard enough worrying about the bigger (and likely meaner) Shock inside, but Phoenix better pay attention to Detroit’s backcourt. Katie Smith has shot 28 percent (22 percent from outside) in the first two games, and Deanna Nolan went 6-for-18 in Game 2. Fortunately for the Mercury there’s still room for improvement: Beyond all the 3-pointers they made and their crisp ball movement, they shot “only” 41 percent.
Shock at Mercury
What: WNBA Finals Game 3
When: 6 p.m. today
Where: US Airways Center
TV/Radio: ESPN2/KMVP (860 AM)