Storm Assistant Coach Shelley Patterson will provide the perspective of a veteran WNBA assistant throughout the WNBA Finals, giving fans an indication of what to watch for in the Coach's Corner.
First of all, this is the classic matchup: the fast-paced game of the West vs. the half-court, physical game of the East. Two very different styles. ... One thing to look for, especially in Game 1, is how Detroit handles that rover defense the Mercury plays. Because Detroit finished its Eastern Conference Finals series a little later, they're getting only one practice and one shootaround to prepare for that style Phoenix plays. That makes it very tough for them, especially tonight.
Three keys for Phoenix?
1. Keep doing what they're doing. They can't change now.
2. Force Detroit to shoot outside and get into more of a run-and-game game.
3. Rebound and box out. They have to focus on the rebounding aspect of the game..
Three keys for Detroit?
1. Take advantage of every missed Phoenix basket and capitalize on them. When Phoenix misses, Detroit has to make them pay for it.
2. The Big 3 have to come to play - Katie Smith, Cheryl Ford and Deanna Nolan. No days off, no plays off until the series is over.
3. Force Phoenix to guard them inside. Put the pressure on rebounding.
What's the X-factor in this series?
Homecourt, for both teams. Detroit has great fans. The atmosphere there can really push Detroit to another level. But Phoenix has the same thing. I went to the game against San Antonio, and they feed off that sixth man energy. You can just feel it happening, you feel the roar. That extra energy makes you want to go get that loose ball a little more. ... The other X-factor, obviously, is the play of the bench.
For the series, I think Phoenix is going to win it. They're confident. Tonight? I'm hoping for a great game. Detroit has had slow starts in the playoffs. If that happens tonight, they could be in trouble.