The first five minutes of the 2016 season were picture-perfect Mercury basketball. Quite literally, Phoenix couldn’t miss. They hit their first eight shots, good for 19 points in half a quarter’s time.
Diana Taurasi comeback debut was especially sharp, as she scored 10 of her team-high 18 points in the first frame. Her much-anticipated return energized her teammates just as so many thought it would, especially in a playoff atmosphere between two teams that have met in the Western Conference Finals each of the last three years.
Then Minnesota started a hot streak of their own, Phoenix’s collective hot hand cooled off, and the Mercury learned in Game 1 that reclaiming their WNBA throne will be no easy task.
After scoring 28 points in the opening quarter, Phoenix mustered just 34 in the second half, ultimately falling to defending champion Minnesota, 95-76.
The opening minutes to the season showed the potential of a reunited Mercury squad. Taurasi led the way, hitting shots and showing her familiar competitive flair against Phoenix’s chief rival. Fellow returner Penny Taylor, who also sat out last season, scored seven of her 13 points in the first quarter.
Minnesota countered behind its own star power. Maya Moore was unstoppable en route to 27 points and 10 assists, while center Sylvia Fowles amassed 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Just as damaging were the Mercury’s turnovers. They committed 20 of them, which led to 30 Lynx points.
Phoenix will look to bounce back on Wednesday, when they will play Indiana at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.