Mercury host Sun in attractive matchup

One of the more anticipated matchups of the WNBA season thus far will take place Saturday night in Phoenix when the Mercury host the road-weary Connecticut Sun.

The Mercury, the league’s hottest team with a six-game winning streak, are tied with the Seattle Storm for the second-best record in the WNBA at 8-3.

Connecticut is right behind them with a 7-3 record after losing consecutive games, including a 103-92 decision Friday night at Seattle.

The Los Angeles Sparks have the best record in the league in terms of winning percentage (.778) at 7-2.

The back-to-back days of playing continues Connecticut’s arduous schedule. The Sun recently played a stretch of five games in nine days in five cities, going 4-1 to start the season with the league’s best record at the time at 7-1.

“Try to understand what you go through in playing five games in nine days in five different cities — the wake-up calls, the commercial flights, breakfast and lunch always in the airports,” Connecticut coach Curt Miller said. “You land and grab your bags and go right to practice. You get checked in and the next day you’re waking up to a shoot-around or a walk-through. For us to go 4-1 in that stretch is simply remarkable and a credit to that locker room.”

The Sun followed their 95-91 home loss to Washington on Wednesday with the defeat at Seattle despite a combined 59 points against the Storm from power forward Chiney Ogwumike (30 points before fouling out) and point guard Jasmine Thomas (29 points and six assists)

In a loss to the Mystics, the Sun trailed by as many as 30 points in the first half and were behind 65-37 at halftime. They rallied to take an 87-86 lead behind a career-high 34 points from shooting guard Courtney Williams before suffering their first home loss of the season.

Despite the recent struggles, Connecticut is averaging 92.3 points per game and on pace to be just the third team in league history to average at least 90 points per game. The last team to do it was the Mercury in 2010. The Sun have six players averaging at least 10 points per game.

Phoenix post player Brittney Griner and point guard Diana Taurasi have accounted for 60 percent of the Mercury’s offense.

Taurasi scored 21 points and Griner added 18 before fouling out late in the Mercury’s 75-72 win at Dallas on Tuesday night. Phoenix went 20 of 22 at the line. Taurasi made all 10 of her free throws.

Taurasi, in her 14th season in the WNBA after starring at UConn, said after Tuesday’s win at Dallas that she can still improve.

“I still want to get better as a basketball player and become a better teammate,” she said. “The day that I wake up and I do not have that inner fire then it is time to go, but I still have it and enjoy playing, and competing and I’m going to keep going.”