Though the Phoenix Mercury still have a chance to set the WNBA record for single-season victories, it remains to be seen how many of their top players will be on the court to help get there.
The league-leading Mercury can record a 15th straight home victory and first-ever season sweep of the Los Angeles Sparks on Saturday night in this potential first-round playoff preview.
With home-court advantage throughout the playoffs secured and Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor resting, Phoenix (27-5) had its five-game winning streak end with a 96-82 loss at Atlanta on Wednesday.
"We’ve had a real busy schedule," coach Sandy Brondello told the Mercury’s official website. "We wouldn’t have rested them if we didn’t have the No. 1 overall seed. Nothing is wrong with either of them, just getting rest when we can."
Taurasi averages a team-leading 17.1 points and 5.7 assists while Taylor is scoring 10.7 per game.
Though it’s uncertain if Brondello plans to rest any other starters, that veteran duo likely will be in the lineup Saturday as the Mercury try to match the Los Angeles teams of 2000 and 2001 and the 2010 Seattle Storm with a league-record 28th victory.
They’ll face Seattle on Sunday to close out the regular season.
Phoenix also has the chance to extend a club-record 14-game home winning streak that is the third-longest in WNBA history.
The Mercury are 4-0 versus Los Angeles (16-17) this year, and won the last two meetings by a combined 41 points. Taurasi’s 17 points led five players in double figures in Phoenix’s 90-69 home rout on July 29.
Taurasi, who scored a season-high 32 in a 94-89 win at Los Angeles on July 6, has averaged 22.5 points against the Sparks in 2014.
Teammate Brittney Griner, who announced her engagement to Tulsa All-Star Glory Johnson this week, has recorded 14 of her WNBA single-season record 125 blocks against the Sparks. She had nine points, five rebounds and three blocks before sitting out the final 14 minutes Wednesday.
The Sparks will clinch the third seed in the Western Conference with a win Saturday, allowing them to avoid a first-round matchup with Phoenix. A loss and a San Antonio victory over Chicago on Sunday would drop Los Angeles to the fourth spot since the Stars hold the tiebreaker.
Candace Parker scored 24 points as the Sparks won their second straight, 77-65 over Seattle at home on Friday.
”I think we’re kind of starting to find our identity a little bit, and it’s about feeling good,” said Parker, who missed the most recent meeting with Phoenix because of a knee strain.
After totaling 50 points in the first two meetings with the Mercury, Parker was held to 14 but had nine rebounds in a 93-73 loss July 24.