We’ve got a fairy tale WNBA Finals in between the No. 5 seed Phoenix Mercury and No. 6 seed Chicago Sky!
Game 1 of the five-game series pointers off on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on ABC.
While this is a rematch of the 2014 WNBA Finals, when the Mercury swept the Sky to win their last champion, the headliners of this variation are Candace Parker and Diana Taurasi.
At the close of the 2020 season, it was difficult to picture either of the 2 GOATs including another champion to their resumes. Both Parker’s then-Sparks and Taurasi’s Mercury had actually kipped down numerous underwhelming seasons, with gifted lineups consistently stopping working to reach their playoff capacity. It appeared the 2 super stars’ professions would unwind with them never ever once again raising the title prize.
Yet, here we are.
Over the offseason, Parker left LA for a group with a greater benefit in Chicago. In Phoenix, a lineup restoration that started last season began to flourish.
However, for both teams, the 2021 routine season was not rather a fairy tale, as evidenced by their No. 5 and No. 6 seeds.
In Chicago, Parker’s victorious homecoming quickly was ruined by an ankle injury that sent out the Sky into a spiral. Even after Parker went back to the lineup, it was an irregular season for Chicago, in spite of the star turn of Kahleah Copper, the ongoing quality of Courtney Vandersloot and the sharpshooting of Allie Quigley. Too frequently, remarkable wins were stabilized by dispiriting losses, leading to a 16-16 record and the No. 6 seed.
Phoenix did not discover a rhythm till the 2nd half of the season, in part since Taurasi remained in and out (and frequently out) of the lineup with unpleasant injuries. In Taurasi’s stead, Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith progressed, with both kipping down the very best seasons of their professions. Across August and into September, the Mercury would rattle a 10-game winning streak, assisting them protect a 19-13 record and the No. 5 seed. Yet, most of their 10-straight success were acquired versus below average challengers, raising concerns about their playoff quality.
Nonetheless, throughout the 2021 WNBA playoffs, both Chicago and Phoenix have actually shown that they are, in reality, the very best variations of themselves. Under the existing playoff format, they are the very first 2 groups to make it through 2 single-elimination video games and a five-game semifinals series to advance to the Finals.
So, how will this fairy tale play out?
Phoenix swept the routine season series in between the 2 groups, 3-0.
None of the 3 contests are especially predictive, and not just since the Mercury now lack Kia Nurse, who is out for the Finals with a torn ACL after playing all 32 video games throughout the routine season.
On June 1 in Chicago, the Mercury got away with a one-point win, 84-83, thanks to an amazing Nurse buzzer-beater. The Mercury lacked Taurasi, while the Sky were missing out on Parker and Quigley. Two days later on, on June 3, the groups took a trip to Phoenix, where the contest entered into overtime prior to the Mercury recorded the three-point success, 77-74. Taurasi and Parker once again were missing, though Quigley went back to the court.
Encouragingly for Phoenix, Diggins-Smith was great in both video games, scoring 24 and 28 points, respectively. She likewise was amazing in the 3rd and last regular-season video game in between the 2 groups, with a double-double of 20 points and 10 helps. Although both Parker and Taurasi were active, the contest was not almost as engaging as the previous 2, with the Mercury running away with a 103-83 win.
Stymying Diggins-Smith hence need to be a leading concern for the Sky. In its semifinal series versus the Connecticut Sun, Chicago did not need to be as worried about offending play from the guard positions. While the Sky’s defense versus MVP Jonquel Jones and the outstanding Sun front court was remarkable, how will they deal with a group that, although reliant on the post luster of Brittney Griner, can create explosive offense from the boundary? In addition to Diggins-Smith, the Taurasi element, perhaps enhanced by Baby GOAT #2, looms, as these playoffs have actually advised us on numerous events.
Yet, for all her supreme scoring exploits, Taurasi is a liability on the other end of the flooring, a lot more so as she stays obstructed by a high-ankle sprain. Against the Las Vegas Aces, Taurasi might be relied on enough to guard Jackie Young, a mainly unthreatening offending gamer. Chicago’s beginning guard and wing corps, on the other hand, do not offer a clear “hiding place.”
Although it appears risky to have her hound Courtney Vandersloot or chase Allie Quigley around screens, slotting Taurasi on Kahleah Copper, the Sky’s leading scorer throughout the routine season and playoffs, who can blow up to the hoop in the blink of an eye, likewise is not an option. While Taurasi’s offending awesomeness definitely can surpass her protective drawbacks, the Sky have the workers that regularly can capitalize her weak points.
Of course, the seasons of the Sky and Mercury, in mix with how these WNBA playoffs have actually unfolded, recommends it is absurd to attempt to assume what will occur. The just thing to anticipate is that this WNBA fairy tale will have an unanticipated ending.
No. 5 seed Phoenix Mercury (5-2) vs. No. 6 seed Chicago Sky (5-1)
When: Sunday, Oct. 10 at 3 p.m. ET
Where: Footprint Center in Phoenix, AZ
How to view: ABC, SN or NBA TELEVISION Canada
Key to the match: After a Friday night video game in Vegas where all 5 beginners played more than thirty minutes and just 7 gamers saw the court, the Mercury should rapidly get gotten ready for an early afternoon start time in the Valley on Sunday. In in between, Diana Taurasi ended up being a mother for a 2nd time. Unfortunately, the smallest Taurasi-Taylor is not yet prepared to dress for the diminished Mercury. Off because Wednesday night, the Sky are rather well rested. However, they have actually been accustomed to the propulsive sprint through the playoffs, appearing to get momentum with each succeeding video game. Will this additional time off assistance or injure? Will the Mercury, no matter how tired they might be, have the adrenaline edge? The unforeseeable crossway of the physical and the emotions of each group, as much as technique, might considerably identify the result of Game 1.
Mercury injury report: Sophie Cunningham (doubtful; left calf stress), Kia Nurse (out; best ACL)
Sky injury report: none