The Phoenix Mercury face long odds of evening up its best-of-five WNBA Western Conference finals series against the Las Vegas Aces.
That’s because Phoenix, which lost Game 1 on Tuesday, 96-90, is a 6.5-point underdog in Thursday’s Game 2 of the series, per BetMGM Arizona.
Game 2 of the WNBA Western Conference finals is at 7 p.m. Arizona time Thursday, with ESPN2 carrying the contest live nationally.
No Answer for the Aces
The Mercury’s Game 1 loss on Tuesday had a lot to do with the team’s inability to thwart Las Vegas’ 3-point shooting, with the Aces connecting on 9-of-19 (47.4%) of their attempts from behind the arc.
Guards Riquna Williams and Kelsey Plum were especially lethal from deep in Game 1, hitting seven of 18 3-point attempts between them, while combining for 51 of the Aces' 96 points in the win.
The Mercury also had no answer for guard Chelsea Gray’s egalitarian offensive attack, with the eighth-year veteran dishing out a game-high 12 assists in the win.
Neither side had an issue with ball control in Game 1, with the Aces having more turnovers (8) than the Mercury (6).
The ultimate difference was the Aces’ ability to connect from deep, hitting 47.4% from behind the arc, compared to the Mercury’s 29.0% average from deep.
Putting Together a Stronger 1st Half
The Mercury’s six-point loss ultimately hinged on the team’s mediocre second quarter, when Las Vegas outscored Phoenix 31-19.
From there, Phoenix righted the ship, closing the deficit to 44-41 in the second half.
Tuesday’s opening game started well for Phoenix, which took a 30-21 lead into the second quarter before losing its grip on a possible road win.
The Mercury must find a way to put together a more complete opening half of basketball on Thursday if they’re going to even up the series heading back to Phoenix.
A major turning point in Game 2 could be the health of veteran guard Diana Taurasi, who has battled an ankle injury all postseason.
Taurasi played in Game 1, but struggled mightily in the contest, hitting 6-of-17 shots, while posting a minus-9 rating in the loss.
Getting Taurasi more involved in the offensive flow could be a turning point Thursday night, as the Mercury look to even the series at a game apiece.
Phoenix Mercury’s Futures Odds
The Mercury still have the third-best WNBA championship odds of the four teams left in the playoffs, at +375, per BetMGM Arizona.
The teams with better championship odds than Phoenix are the Connecticut Sun (+135) and the Aces (+175), with the Chicago Sky sitting fourth, at +850.
On FanDuel Arizona, the Mercury are now +1100 (4th out of 4); Chicago is third at +400 and Connecticut and Las Vegas are both at +150.
The Aces are the lone team left from last year’s WNBA Finals, after the Mercury knocked off the Seattle Storm, 85-80, in overtime on Sunday.
Whether Las Vegas will make it back to the Finals depends on the performance turned in by Taurasi and Co, in the Sin City on Thursday night, when the Mercury and Aces meet up on the court.