The fate of the Phoenix Mercury’s season will be decided at Michelob Ultra Arena on the Las Vegas Strip on Friday night.
That’s where the Mercury and Las Vegas Aces duke it out in Game 5 of the WNBA’s Western Conference Finals, with a trip to the 2021 WNBA Finals on the line.
The contest tips off at 6 p.m. Arizona time Friday, with ESPN2 carrying the contest live nationally.
For those taking part in sports betting in Arizona, this could be their last chance to wager on the Mercury according to oddsmakers.
Sports betting in Arizona launched on Sept. 9, making NFL betting and WNBA playoff betting legal.
Mercury Underdogs in Game 5
The one thing that Arizona betting apps agree on is that Phoenix is an underdog, though the numbers vary slightly depending on the operator.
Phoenix is +180 against the Aces on Friday, according to the moneyline at BetMGM Arizona. The Mercury are a 5.5-point (-110) underdog, and the game’s over/under is 169.5.
At Caesars Sportsbook, the Mercury are +190, the spread is 5.5 points, and the over/under is 169.0.
Oddsmakers at FanDuel Sportsbook Arizona have the Mercury at +5.5 (-108), with a money line of +198 and a 169.5 over/under for Friday’s game.
TwinSpires Sportsbook Arizona has the Mercury at +6 (-113), with a +190 money line and 169.5 over/under.
How the Mercury Got Here
The Mercury had a shot at wrapping up the series in Phoenix on Wednesday night, before a 29-11 third quarter by the Aces put any chance of ending the series in four games on ice.
The Aces, who eventually won Game 4, 93-76, put up a staggering 26-2 run to start the third quarter. A’ja Wilson had 15 points and 12 rebounds for Las Vegas, while Chelsea Gray added 22 points to bury the Mercury.
The Mercury’s second half meltdown came on the heels of back-to-back blowout victories over Las Vegas.
Phoenix thumped the Aces 117-91 in Game 2 in Vegas and 87-60 in Game 3 at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe.
The Mercury entered Wednesday’s contest a win away from the franchise’s first WNBA Championship Series appearance in seven years — but ended the night with more questions than answers.
One of those questions is how Phoenix will alter its lineup without guard Kia Nurse, who injured her right knee during Game 4.
The Mercury listed Nurse as out for Friday's game when they released their injury report Thursday afternoon. Nurse averaged 9.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game for the Mercury in 32 games during the regular season.
Mercury coach Sandy Brondello acknowledged after Game 4 that Nurse’s injury derailed the team’s game plan.
“I think that threw them for a big punch,” Brondello said. “I think it showed how important Kia Nurse is for us.”
Now Brondello’s team will return to Las Vegas with their championship dreams hanging by a thread.
After her big performance in Game 4, Gray isn’t fazed by the prospects of a winner-take-all Game 5.
“Athletes live for moments like this. Just having confidence of how we played all year and keeping our composure,” Gray said. “That’s why it’s a series. That’s why basketball is so cool. Sometimes it can change really fast.”