Fight for the Finals: Both Sun, Mercury Bounce Back To Even Series at 1-1
After a pair of Game 1 contests, which saw the Chicago Sky pull off an upset double-overtime win on the road and the Las Vegas Aces display their impressive depth to defend home court, the WNBA semifinals continued on Thursday night.
Going into the night, storylines included wondering whether Chicago would take a commanding 2-0 series lead over the top-seed Connecticut Sun, as well as if the fifth-seed Phoenix Mercury could bounce back and cool down Las Vegas to even the series.
After another entertaining evening of semifinal action, let’s take a look at each Game 2 contest.
#1 Connecticut Sun – 1, #6 Chicago Sky – 1
Game One: Sky 101, Sun 95 (2OT)
Game Two: Sun 79, Sky 68
Though it was going to be tough to top the highly entertaining double-overtime opener, the second game of this series was once again a back-and-forth contest at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. In the end, the top-seeded Sun were able to grab a much-needed 79-68 win to even the series at a game apiece.
Much like we saw in Game 1, the Sky jumped out to an early lead, beginning with an 11-0 run to take the air out of the building on the road, but the Sun answered, bouncing back to even things up and pulling away in the second half. Connecticut put things out of reach for good in the fourth quarter behind a 21-6 advantage over the final 10 minutes to earn the first victory of the best-of-five series.
WE GOT A TIED SERIES 🚨
— WNBA (@WNBA) October 1, 2021
After a rough Game 1 performance, the backcourt of Jasmine Thomas and Briann January stepped up in the first half to help Connecticut battle back into the game. Jasmine Thomas finished with 12 points and three assists, and January added 12 points for the Sun. Late in the game, Alyssa Thomas and DeWanna Bonner took over and pushed things out of reach, with Alyssa Thomas recording 15 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists off the bench, and Bonner tallying 15 points and eight rebounds.
On the other side, Chicago’s starters didn’t thrive as they did in their Game 1 win. As a team, Chicago shot just 39.7 percent from the field, struggling basically beyond its opening 11-0 run. Kahleah Copper led the team with 13 points, five rebounds, and four assists; Candace Parker had 12 points, seven rebounds, and four assists; and Courtney Vandersloot—coming off of a historic Game 1 performance—added 10 points and six assists.
With both teams snagging a victory thus far, this series is down to a best-of-three battle as it shifts to Chicago for Game 3 on Sunday afternoon. Now, it will be a question whether Connecticut has shaken off the rust that appeared in Game 1, or if Chicago is for real and capable of pulling off an upset to pull ahead in the series once again.
#2 Las Vegas Aces – 1, #5 Phoenix Mercury – 1
Game One: Aces 96, Mercury 90
Game Two: Mercury 117, Aces 91
After Las Vegas flexed its impressive depth en route to claiming victory in Game 1, veteran-led Phoenix were expected to come into Game 2 on Thursday with a sense of urgency. The Mercury certainly did just that, making a statement with a blow-out win over the Aces, 117-91, at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas to even the series.
Apparently, the common theme for both road teams in the first two games of the semifinal round is to start games off red hot on their opponents home court, because that’s exactly what the Mercury did, matching what Chicago did a few hours earlier. Phoenix got out to an impressive 17-point lead after the first quarter and didn’t let up or look back the rest of the game, while stretching its lead well north of 20 during the second half.
The @PhoenixMercury HAD THEMSELVES A GAME 🔥
The Mercury matched a #WNBAPlayoffs record for first-quarter points with 37 PTS and dropped 117 PTS to tie the series, 1-1 👏
— WNBA (@WNBA) October 1, 2021
For the Mercury, their impressive performance was headlined by the veteran trio of Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, and Skylar Diggins-Smith, who combined to score 79 of Phoenix’s 117 points. Taurasi dropped an eye-popping 37 points and six rebounds, followed by Griner with 25 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, and Diggins-Smith contributed 17 points and five assists.
Like in Game 1, Kelsey Plum led the Aces off the bench with a team-high 25 points and three assists. Behind Plum, Riquna Williams had her second straight performance leading the starters in scoring, tallying 17 points. Liz Cambage added 13 points and four rebounds, and A’ja Wilson pitched in with 12 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists.
In Game 1, Las Vegas was the team that put on an impressive performance to take an early lead in the series. On Thursday, it was Phoenix’s turn to return the favor. Now with the series even and shifting to Phoenix for Game 3 on Sunday, we’ll see who can step up to take a 2-1 advantage and inch closer to the WNBA Finals.
WNBA Playoff Schedule
First Round (single-elimination):
Second Round (single-elimination):
- Game One (Tuesday, Sept. 28):
- Game Two (Thursday, Sept. 30):
- Game Three (Sunday, Oct. 3):
- #1 Connecticut Sun at #6 Chicago Sky, 1 p.m. ET on ESPN
- #2 Las Vegas Aces at #5 Phoenix Mercury, 3 p.m. ET on ABC
- Game Four (Wednesday, Oct. 6):
- #1 Connecticut Sun at #6 Chicago Sky, TBD on ESPN
- #2 Las Vegas Aces at #5 Phoenix Mercury, TBD on ESPN
- Game Five, if necessary (Friday, Oct. 8):
- #6 Chicago Sky at #1 Connecticut Sun, TBD on ESPN2
- #5 Phoenix Mercury at #2 Las Vegas Aces, TBD on ESPN2
- Game One: Sunday, Oct. 10 on ABC
- Game Two: Wednesday, Oct. 13 on ESPN2
- Game Three: Friday, Oct. 15 on ESPN2
- Game Four (if necessary): Sunday, Oct. 17 on ESPN
- Game Five (if necessary): Tuesday, Oct. 19 on ESPN2