WNBA Playoffs: Taurasi comes up big as Mercury march on to finals

Published October 9, 2021, 3:00 PMRenee Ticzon

Diana Taurasi delivered when it mattered most to help the Phoenix Mercury beat the Las Vegas Aces and make the WNBA Finals.


Mercury 87, Aces 84 (PHX wins series 3-2)

What went down

The Phoenix Mercury advanced to the 2021 WNBA Finals after an 87-84 Game 5 win over the Las Vegas Aces behind the 39-year-old Diana Taurasi, who balled out with 24 points, 14 of which came in the final quarter. Her dominant performance was sparked by a heated confrontation with Jackie Young at the end of the third after Taurasi struggled to make baskets in the first three quarters.

Down by a bucket at halftime, the Aces went berserk in the third, mounting a 10-point lead thanks to their hot shooting as Liz Cambage scored eight points in that period.

Las Vegas was on a roll before Young started yapping, igniting something in Taurasi. The Mercury vet responded with two 3s—part of a 10-0 run that completely erased the Aces’ lead. Las Vegas, though, kept the game close until the final few minutes.

Taurasi had a block on the 6’8” Cambage, which eventually led to two made free throws for Shey Peddy. The Aces had a chance to salvage the game as the clock was winding down, but Brittney Griner tallied her first block of the match in the most dramatic way possible to seal the win for Phoenix.

The Mercury were missing some key pieces as Kia Nurse went down with an ACL in Game 4 and Sophie Cunningham was unavailable due to a calf strain. But Phoenix was determined to bounce back after a big loss to the Aces the other day.

Everyone expected the Mercury to rely on their Big 3 but it was Peddy who was the x-factor in the first half, scoring 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting with two assists, while also impacting the game on the defensive end with two steals.

The Mercury return to the WNBA Finals for the first time since 2014, giving Taurasi a chance to claim her fourth championship. The fifth-ranked Phoenix will go up against the No. 6 Chicago Sky, who was the same team they faced in 2014.

Big-time baller

Brittney Griner stayed consistent for Phoenix, scoring a game-high 28 points, adding nine rebounds and one crucial block. She went 11-of-18 from the field in almost 38 minutes on the floor.

What they said

You can’t confront one of the greatest WNBA players and not expect a comeback -- you just don’t. Everyone knew it wasn’t a good idea to bark at Taurasi except Young.

Did you see that?

It’s not every day that fans are fortunate enough to see history in the making. Let’s appreciate Diana Taurasi while we still can.