For Mercury on Tuesday, this is a life-and-death moment as they try to avoid falling behind 2-0 in a two-win-of-five series. The Chicago Sky team is playing house money at this time, because the victory will give them a lead on the way home.
For Mercury, the first game was a disappointing and exhausting defeat. Only 48 hours ago, the team completed the arduous five-game series against Aces and must be prepared to play against the hottest team in the league. Fatigue and exhaustion seemed to be a factor in their decline in the second quarter, and the Sky team defeated them by a score of 25-10. Diana Taurasi poured cold water on this theory in an interview with ESPN’s Ros Gold-Onwude, “We are not tired. We have just been kicked ass now.” Either way, the deficit in the second quarter is something Mercury has never recovered. They continued to lose the game 91-77.
Despite losing, Mercury still has a lot to be optimistic about. Their three-point shooting percentage reached an impressive 46%, Britney Greener’s shooting percentage exceeded 50%, and the team’s turnover rate was very high. Now that the Phoenix has had a few days of recuperation, it should be refreshed and rejuvenated. You can expect their Big Three Griner, Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith to perform at their highest level.
The sky is where they want to go. Leading 1-0, the opportunity to pierce the dagger into Phoenix’s heart and lead 2-0. Tuesday’s loss will be disappointing, but not devastating. They can play easily and aggressively because they know they have achieved their goal of winning away games during the Finals. If they win the home game, the series will end in four games.
Of course, easier said than done. Mercury’s dominant big man can score at will, leaving the sky in foul trouble. If the sky can’t slow down the speed of the Phoenix Big Three, the game may quickly get rid of them, especially in the away game. The Sky team needs more substitutes in the second game. In the first game, only Stephanie Dolson scored from the bench. She has an incredible 14 points performance, but this is unlikely to happen again, and ideally, you have more than one person on the bench contributing. Diamond de Shields needs to show up, and the Sky team needs Dana Evans to replace Courtney Vandersloot’s stable production.
In order for the Sky team to win another away game, they need another all-round performance. The team must reduce turnovers, the three-point shooting percentage must exceed 36%, and another player must be the X factor. Can Allie Quigley play a big game? Will Azurá Stevens give you 13 points or more? Who else on the bench can be a power swingman? If the Sky team can’t let these things happen, they are likely to return to Chicago with a score of 1-1.
No. 5 seed Phoenix Mercury vs. No. 6 seed Chicago Sky
when: Wednesday, October 13, 9 p.m. EDT
Where: Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona
How to watch: ESPN
The key to the game: For Phoenix Mercury, this is a must-win game. They must be as aggressive as possible and hope to establish Brittney Griner quickly. Mercury also needs to do better on the board. They lost their first rebound game 34-29. In addition to Stephanie Dolson, the Sky team needs more substitutes, and they must shoot better within the three-point range.
Mercury injury report: Kia nurse (out; right anterior cruciate ligament)
Sky damage report: not any