The course of the Phoenix Mercury’s quest for a fourth WNBA title hung in the balance Wednesday in the waning minutes of Game 2 of the WNBA Finals.
The Mercury had their backs against the wall, having lost Game 1 at home to the Chicago Sky, 91-77, and trailing at home in Game 2 after three quarters.
That was when the veteran duo of Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi took over — with the pair powering Phoenix past Chicago, 91-86, in overtime to even the best-of-five series.
Game 3 in Chicago tips off Friday at 6 p.m. Arizona time on ESPN2. Despite its comeback in Game 2, Phoenix hits the court Friday as an underdog at Arizona sportsbooks.
Mercury Slight Underdogs in Game 3
DraftKings Sportsbook Arizona has Phoenix at +3 (-110) and has the Mercury at +100 to win the WNBA title, while the Sky are at -120.
TwinSpires Sportsbook Arizona lists Phoenix as 3.5-point underdogs for Game 3 and also has the Mercury at +100 to win the title, with Chicago at -122. On the moneyline, Phoenix is listed between +128 (FanDuel) to +140 (Caesars).
How the Mercury and Sky Got Here
The Mercury did what they needed to do to even the best-of-five championship series, outscoring the Sky, 22-16, in the game’s final quarter and 12-7 in overtime.
Two cogs in coach Kim Brondello’s offense were Griner and Taurasi, who combined to score 49 of the team’s 91 points — hitting 19-of-35 shots from the field in the process.
Guard Skylar Diggins-Smith was the only other Phoenix starter to reach double figures, with 13 points on 5-of-18 shooting. Shey Peddy added 10 points in 22 minutes off the bench to give Phoenix another scoring threat in Game 2.
Chicago outshot Phoenix, 46.3%-to-44.4%, but shot itself in the foot with 16 turnovers.
Taurasi ultimately was the gamechanger for Phoenix, as the former WNBA MVP scored eight of the team’s 12 points in overtime. Taurasi said her goal Wednesday was to keep her team afloat down the stretch and praised her teammates for their ability to do just that.
"When you're in that moment, the gravity of what's going on, you can feel it and you try to just laser in on each possession, each timeout, really communicating with each other," Taurasi said.
Griner, meanwhile, summed up the impact Taurasi, who missed half of Phoenix’s regular season games with injuries, had on the team’s offense in Game 2.
"That's the GOAT right there," Griner said. “We know time is going down, it's crunch time, we have all the faith in the world she's going to make big shots for us."