Takeaways: Griner and the Mercury beat the Sun at home

PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 1: Diana Taurasi
PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 1: Diana Taurasi /
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PHOENIX– The Phoenix Mercury made good use of the WNBA regular season’s closing weekend on Friday night, beating the Connecticut Sun, 86-66, and earning the right to host a first-round elimination game in the playoffs.

Here are the Summit’s three takeaways from the game, as both teams head toward the postseason:

1. The Sun have a big problem

In the paint on WNBA courts, it really is a “kill or be killed” situation. With so much talent around the league at the forward and center positions, having the scoring to go blow for blow with those players and the defenders to limit them on the other end is vital for continued success.

From Sylvia Fowles to Nneka Ogwumike to Brittney Griner, most of the league’s top players are bigs. Last month, the Sun allowed at least 17 points to each star big that they faced, with Tina Charles and Elena Delle Donne’s 24 each over the last couple weeks of the season capping off a dismal stretch of interior defense for Connecticut.

Add in another 20-point game for Glory Johnson earlier in the month, and you start to paint a picture of the problems the Sun might have controlling the paint during the playoff run they hope to make this season. Jonquel Jones is undersized to man the middle against a Fowles or Griner, and reserve Brionna Jones showed tonight in struggling against Griner (who had 20 points in the first half) that she isn’t necessarily the right answer either.

This conundrum is what could potentially make a team like New York, with Kia Vaughn and Kiah Stokes or Phoenix themselves, with Griner’s two-way excellence, such terrifying matchups come playoff time. These teams have enough scoring and defense down low to play the game on their terms, rather than constantly responding to the havoc being wrecked on the interior.