What started as a WNBA Finals Game 1 full of promise devolved into a one-sided defeat for the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday.
The Mercury, who lost that opening game, 91-77, to the Chicago Sky, are tasked with rebounding in Game 2 — held at 6 p.m. Arizona time Wednesday at Footprint Center.
The contest will be carried nationally on ABC, with the Mercury looking to even the best-of-five championship series.
This is the first season the WNBA Finals have been available for sports gambling in Arizona.
Mercury Favorites in Game 2
A quartet of Arizona sportsbooks have the Mercury as favorites in Wednesday’s Game 2.
Caesars and DraftKings Sportsbook Arizona have the Mercury at -4 (-110), with an over/under of 168.5. FanDuel Arizona has the Mercury at -3.5 (-115), with a 168.5 over/under and TwinSpires Arizona has Phoenix also at -3.5 (-114) with a -167 moneyline.
The Mercury were 2.5-point favorites, per Caesars Sportsbook, in Sunday’s Game 1.
How the Chicago Sky Won Game 1
The Sky beat the Mercury by 14 points as the underdog in Game 1, thanks in large part to the team’s red-hot shooting.
Chicago converted 36 of 68 shot attempts (52.9%) Sunday and hit all 11 of its free throws. The Sky also received a boost off the bench from center Stefanie Dolson, who scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting in just 17 minutes of playing time.
All five of Chicago’s starters scored at least 10 points, with veteran forward Candace Parker hitting 7 of 10 shots to finish with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists.
Teammate Kahleah Cooper led the Sky in scoring with 21 points and grabbed 10 boards.
Another key aspect of Sunday’s Game 1 win for Chicago was the ability to outrebound the Mercury, 34-29, while also holding Phoenix to 43.5% shooting.
Getting Griner Back on Track
The Sky also limited former WNBA MVP Brittany Griner’s impact on offense.
Griner, who entered Game 1 shooting 56.1% from the floor, missed eight of her 15 shot attempts in the loss and only had six rebounds.
Griner’s lack of rebounding stemmed in large part from the Sky’s swarming defense, which prevented her from matching her playoff average of 9.3 rebounds per game.
Look for Mercury coach Sandy Brondello to build the Mercury’s offense around Griner and fellow veteran, Diana Taurasi, as Phoenix tries to even things up at a game apiece.
Brondello said as much during her postgame comments Sunday, telling members of the media the Mercury would come back rested and ready to roll Wednesday night.
"We've just got to freshen up. That's what it is. We've been in these situations before. This is a team that's playing extremely well,” Brondello said. “We've got to prepare for them. We're going to practice on Tuesday, albeit light, because we want to keep their legs fresh. Watch the video, go out on the court, and just execute some areas we need to be better at.”