With both WNBA semifinals series evened up at 1-1 after Game 2 last Thursday, there was a lot riding on Game 3 on Sunday. The final four teams in the league aimed to take a stronghold on their best-of-five series and force an elimination game in Game 4, bringing them one win away from advancing to the WNBA Finals.
Game 3 saw a shift to the home court of the bottom two seeds, with both the Chicago Sky and Phoenix Mercury looking to use that advantage to take surprising leads over the top teams in the league.
Both the Sky and Mercury accomplished that on Sunday afternoon, and they are each one victory away from pulling off upsets. With elimination games now on deck, let’s look back at what took place in each Game 3 contest.
#6 Chicago Sky – 2, #1 Connecticut Sun – 1
Game One: Sky 101, Sun 95 (2OT)
Game Two: Sun 79, Sky 68
Game Three: Sky 86, Sun 83
With the exception of Connecticut’s dominant fourth quarter in Game 2 that resulted in an 11-point victory, the entire series has been an incredibly close, back-and-forth contest between the Sun and Sky. In Game 3 at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, that was once again the case, and the Sky came away with a close 86-83 victory to take a one-game lead.
Unlike the first two games, Connecticut was the team that came out of the gates strong in the first quarter, only to have Chicago respond in the second quarter to even things up going into halftime. As the second half progressed, you could tell this game was once again going to come down to the wire. The difference came in the fourth quarter, when the Sky outscored the Sun 26-20, while holding off Connecticut’s late-second push, to take a 2-1 advantage in the series.
Down to the wire in Game 3…
— WNBA (@WNBA) October 3, 2021
Kahleah Copper continued her strong season and impressive postseason play by leading Chicago once again, recording a team-high 26 points. With a team-best four threes, Allie Quigley added 21 points and four rebounds, followed by Azura Stevens with 15 points and 11 rebounds, Candace Parker with 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Courtney Vandersloot with seven points, 13 assists, and five rebounds.
With Jonquel Jones still being held in check offensively by the Sky defense in this series, DeWanna Bonner and Alyssa Thomas remained the leading scorers for Connecticut in the loss. Bonner tallied a team-high 22 points and five rebounds, with Thomas pitching in 18 points off the bench. Briann January also finished in double figures, recording 11 points and four assists for the Sun.
Chicago’s interior defense and clutch play down the stretch remains the difference maker in this series and is the reason the Sky are now out in front of the top team in the WNBA. On Wednesday, Chicago’s pursuit of a surprising upset continues on its home floor, with a chance to eliminate Connecticut and advance to the WNBA Finals.
#5 Phoenix Mercury – 2, #2 Las Vegas Aces – 1
Game One: Aces 96, Mercury 90
Game Two: Mercury 117, Aces 91
Game Three: Mercury 87, Aces 60
With the series knotted up at 1-1 and shifting locations to Desert Financial Arena in Arizona, Phoenix aimed to build off a blowout win, while Las Vegas was looking to bounce back after a disappointing showing in Game 2. On Sunday, the Mercury dominated with a 87-60 win, increasing the Aces disappointment, to go up in the series 2-1.
From the opening tipoff, the Mercury controlled the game; they didn’t waste any time jumping out to a lead, while holding one of the league’s top offenses to just 60 points and 30.9 percent shooting from the field. By the time Las Vegas tried to put a run together in the second half, Phoenix’s lead was already too large to overcome. Like in Game 2, it was all-Mercury, all-the-time, resulting in the second blowout in a row.
.@PhoenixMercury GET THE DOMINANT WIN 💯
— WNBA (@WNBA) October 3, 2021
In Game 2, Phoenix’s Big Three of Brittney Griner, Diana Taurasi, and Skylar Diggins-Smith combined to score 79 of the Mercury’s 117 points. In Sunday’s Game 3, Griner was once again dominant, recording 18 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and three blocks, but there was another Phoenix post that joined in on the fun to help lift the Mercury. Brianna Turner finished with a team-best 23 points, 17 rebounds, and two blocks to provide Las Vegas with a tough matchup in the paint.
The Aces struggled offensively, unable to get anything going for most of the game. They finished with just 60 points after averaging a league-best 89.3 points per game during the regular season. Liz Cambage, who had 13 points and five rebounds, and Dearica Hamby, who added 10 points and seven rebounds, were the only two players who passed the double-digit scoring mark in the loss.
With Game 4 remaining in Arizona on Wednesday, it will be interesting to keep an eye on how Las Vegas is able to respond and potentially bounce back, or if Phoenix’s dominance will continue to claim the series. Either way, the Aces are now one game away from going home earlier than expected, and the Mercury are that close to pulling off the upset and moving on to the championship series.
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):
- #1 Connecticut Sun at #6 Chicago Sky, 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
- #2 Las Vegas Aces at #5 Phoenix Mercury, 10 p.m. ET 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