With the sixth seed Chicago Sky claiming the first spot in the WNBA Finals on Wednesday after wrapping up a 3-1 series win over the top seed Connecticut Sun, the other half of the championship series was still up for grabs between the second seed Las Vegas Aces and fifth seed Phoenix Mercury heading into Friday.
During the winner-take-all Game 5 in Las Vegas on Friday night, Phoenix pulled off the upset and secured the second spot in the WNBA Finals to now square off against the Sky in a best-of-five series for the league title.
With the championship showdown now set, let’s go back and recap the captivating Game 5 that took place Friday night in Las Vegas.
#5 Phoenix Mercury – 3, #2 Las Vegas Aces – 2
Game One: Aces 96, Mercury 90
Game Two: Mercury 117, Aces 91
Game Three: Mercury 87, Aces 60
Game Four: Aces 93, Mercury 76
Game Five: Mercury 87, Aces 84
With its back against the wall in Game 4 and facing elimination, Las Vegas bounced back on the road to even the series at 2-2 and force a Game 5 back on its home floor with a trip to the Finals on the line. But with Phoenix being better on the road than it was at home throughout the season and having already taken one road contest in this series, we knew it was going to be a hard-fought battle on Friday night.
As we’ve already seen a few times in the semifinals, the Mercury grabbed momentum early on in the game and got out to a nice lead after the first quarter. As Phoenix tried to continue to extend its lead in the first half, Las Vegas did a good job battling back to even things up, limiting the Mercury to a 44-42 advantage going into halftime.
The Aces opened up the second half on a similar run to what took place in Game 4, stretching a lead going into the final frame. In the fourth quarter, the Mercury responded and came up with big-time plays down the stretch on both ends of the floor, capped off with a game-clinching block by Brittney Griner to pull out the 87-84 win.
The @phoenixmercury ARE HEADED TO THE FINALS 🎫
— WNBA (@WNBA) October 9, 2021
As we expected to see in this high-stakes semifinals finale, the trio of Griner, Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith led the way for the Mercury. Griner finished the game with 28 points, nine rebounds and a series-clinching block in the final seconds to lift Phoenix. Taurasi followed with 24 points, and Diggins-Smith secured 14 points and eight assists. Without Kia Nurse, who suffered a torn ACL in Game 4 and is out for the rest of the postseason, Shey Peddy stepped into the starting lineup and was a big difference maker for the Mercury with 15 points, five rebounds and three steals.
For the Aces, the trio of Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum and A’ja Wilson did all they could to lead Las Vegas’ second-half charge in an attempt to claim Game 5 at home. Gray recorded 22 points and six assists, and Plum matched that scoring total of 22 points to go along with three assists and three rebounds. Behind them, Wilson tallied a double-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.
After coming up short the last few postseasons and failing to get over the hump of returning to the WNBA Finals since 2014, Phoenix was finally able to snap that streak on Friday night in Game 5 by completing the upset over Las Vegas in the semifinals. Now the next objective for the Mercury is fending off the formidable Sky to bring home a WNBA title for the fourth time in franchise history.
Sky, Mercury Meet in WNBA Finals
The Finals showdown between Chicago and Phoenix features a rematch of the 2014 WNBA Finals, a series which saw the Mercury sweep the Sky 3-0 to claim their third and most recent league title.
During the regular season, Chicago and Phoenix squared off three times, and the Mercury took all three contests. In a back-to-back set of games on June 1 and June 3, Phoenix won the first game 84-83 in Chicago and edged out another victory 77-74 in the second game in Phoenix. In the final contest, the Mercury defended their home court with a 103-83 win to complete the season sweep.
Regardless of how the regular season matchups between these two teams panned out, they are now different teams who are both playing well at the perfect time in the postseason. Starting Sunday in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, it will be Candace Parker and the Sky squaring off against Griner, Taurasi and the Mercury for a league championship. Get your popcorn ready.
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):
- Game Four (Wednesday, Oct. 6):
- Game Five (Friday, Oct. 8):
- #5 Phoenix Mercury 87, #2 Las Vegas Aces 84 RECAP
- Game One (Sunday, Oct. 10):
- #6 Chicago Sky at #5 Phoenix Mercury, 3 p.m. ET on ABC
- Game Two (Wednesday, Oct. 13):
- #6 Chicago Sky at #5 Phoenix Mercury, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
- Game Three (Friday, Oct. 15):
- #5 Phoenix Mercury at #6 Chicago Sky, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2
- Game Four – if necessary (Sunday, Oct. 17):
- #5 Phoenix Mercury at #6 Chicago Sky, 3 p.m. ET on ESPN
- Game Five – if necessary (Tuesday, Oct. 19):
- #6 Chicago Sky at #5 Phoenix Mercury, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2