The three-time WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury are three wins away from the franchise’s first league Finals appearance in seven years.
The Mercury got to this stage thanks to the larger-than-life exploits of forward Brittany Griner and guards Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith.
The trio combined for 57 of Phoenix’s 85 points in Sunday’s second-round showdown against the defending champion Seattle Storm as Phoenix won 85-80 in Seattle to eliminate its rival.
Griner led all Mercury players in scoring Sunday, hitting 11-of-17 shots to finish with 23 points, while pulling down 16 rebounds including five offensive boards.
Taurasi, who missed the team’s playoff opener with an ankle injury, was sharp in her return to action — finishing with 14 points, five assists and four rebounds, to go with a +17 rating.
Diggins-Smith finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the five-point victory.
Mercury Face Long WNBA Title Odds
The Mercury’s triumph over the defending champs did little to assuage the oddsmakers in Vegas, who still give Phoenix the third-best odds of the four teams left in contention.
The Aces have the second-best odds to win it all, behind the No. 1 seed Connecticut Sun, at +200 on BetMGM and PointsBet.
Viva Las Vegas
The Mercury’s second-round victory clinched a meeting with the No. 2 seed, Las Vegas Aces, in the Western Conference final.
The two sides will face off in a best-of-five series beginning 7 p.m. Arizona time Tuesday in Las Vegas, with ESPN2 carrying the contest live nationally.
From there, the two sides will meet against for Game 2 at the same time and place on Thursday, before coming to the Valley for a noon local time game at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe on Sunday for Game 3.
Game 4 of the series will be held at Footprint Center, where a FanDuel retail sportsbook is located, at an undetermined time on Wednesday, while Game 5 (if necessary) is scheduled for Oct. 8 in Las Vegas at an undetermined time.
Split Record Against Aces
The Mercury split their two games against Las Vegas during the WNBA regular season, beating the Aces, 99-90, in overtime on July 7, before losing in the team’s regular season finale, 84-83, on Sept. 19.
The Aces finished with the best record during the regular season in the WNBA’s six-team Western Conference — going 24-8 — while the Mercury finished fourth, at 19-13.
Phoenix was burned in its last showdown with Las Vegas by veteran guard Kelsey Plum, who hit 9-of-18 shots off the bench to score a game-high 23 points for the Aces.
Diggins-Smith was the Mercury’s leading scorer in that contest, scoring 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting, while dishing out seven assists in the one-point loss.
She and the Mercury will have five opportunities to dethrone the Aces in the Western Conference final.
We’ll know a lot more about whether she and her teammates can do just that when Game 1 tips off Tuesday night in Las Vegas.