It's not magic, this idea that if you are the Phoenix Mercury, all you need to do is return to your home floor in the WNBA's Western Conference finals and you get your offense back.
Adjustments will need to be made by a team that opened this tough series with its worst offensive performance of the season. And they will need to be made quickly because as defending champions when they take the floor at Talking Stick Arena on Sunday at noon, they are facing the prospect of elimination after Minnesota took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series with a 67-60 win in Minneapolis on Thursday night.
After dominating Tulsa in two games in a first-round sweep and seemingly scoring at will, Phoenix went cold in Minnesota.
"We have been moving the ball well and putting up a lot of points the last month or so," Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said. "Maybe it was the moment, I don't know. Some of these players haven't been to the Western Conference Finals before. Minnesota has been there, done that, often. But we will go back to Phoenix and we know we will play better."
In the two games heading into this series, scoring was not a problem. The Mercury averaged 89.5 points in sweeping the Tulsa series, shooting better than 54 percent from the floor.
And then Thursday night, the Mercury put up a season-low 60 points in the face of the Lynx defense, struggled just to find open shots and shot just 32.8 percent from the field.
DeWanna Bonner was Phoenix's only double-figures scorer on Thursday with 21 points. The rest of the Mercury's starting lineup combined for only 10 field goals.
Brittney Griner, faced with the tough matchup of Sylvia Fowles inside, was effectively neutralized, going 3-of-7 from the floor. Griner had averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds in the playoffs coming in.
"I think we got away from what we've been doing most of the season, we stopped moving the ball," Brondello said. "Credit Minnesota, they put pressure on us. But we did a poor job of moving the ball from side to side. They just took us out of what makes us a good team."
Phoenix has reason to be hopeful that the comforts of its home floor -- and a loud home crowd -- will improve its scoring prospects. During the regular-season, Phoenix averaging 77.3 points per game at home, and 73.0 points per game on the road.
But without Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor on the floor to provide a scoring lift and a veteran presence to guide the team through rough patches that come in the postseason, the Mercury are relying heavily on their "big three" of Bonner, Griner and Candice Dupree. Griner and Dupree averaged 29.2 points per game this season, but combined for just 17 points on Thursday.
"We have to come up with a way to establish BG and Candice inside for sure," Dupree said.
Brondello said her team will be more aggressive on Sunday by playing more off their "front foot".
"We played a little too slow (Thursday)," Brondello said. "We need to pick up the tempo and establish our inside-outside game."
The Mercury will also need to generate offense from defense. Phoenix forced seven early turnovers and got Minnesota in a 21-12 hole out of the gate, but got beat handily on the glass (44-30), which Minnesota turned into 22 second-chance points.
"We just can't allow that," Brondello said.
Dupree said she is looking forward to feeding off the energy of the home crowd, much the way Minnesota did on Thursday night.
"We are will be looking much more comfortable at home, for sure," Dupree said.
Brondello said her team is resilient.
"I know this team. This team will respond," Brondello said. "We are a resilient bunch. We've gone through a lot of adversity. We will come out on Sunday on our home court and put on a better show. We are a much better team that that. So I'm confident we will bounce back."