WNBA Weekly Wrap: Mercury, Sky, Lynx clinch playoff spots

Published September 6, 2021, 8:00 PMJon Carlos Rodriguez

The Phoenix Mercury, Chicago Sky, and Minnesota Lynx secured their playoff berths this week, joining the Connecticut Sun, Las Vegas Aces, and Seattle Storm in the top 6.

Candace Parker, recently named to "The W25", led the Sky's push for a playoff spot.

Game of the Week

It was an important game for the New York Liberty. They’ve just lost five straight and are on the brink of falling out of the playoff race.

Towards the end of the third quarter, the Liberty held on to a 10-point lead over the Seattle Storm, and things looked okay.

Then Breanna Stewart probably said, “Enough.”

The reigning Finals MVP scored seven straight points for the Storm, then scored eight more in the fourth quarter to take over the game.

In total, Stewart dropped 33 on the Liberty and made their road to the playoffs much bumpier.

Only Stewart and Mercedes Russell (14 points) scored in double figures for Seattle, and that was enough. The win also snapped Seattle’s own losing streak.

Team in the spotlight

Just how hot are the Phoenix Mercury? Hot enough for tennis superstar Naomi Osaka to rock a Skylar Diggins-Smith jersey before her US Open match.

The Mercury’s start to the season was not at all scorching, but the team managed to heat up at the perfect time leading up to the playoffs.

In a game against the Chicago Sky, Phoenix scorched the nets with 13 3s, a season-high.

Phoenix is currently on an eight-game streak, the team’s longest win streak since 2018. And while Diggins-Smith is getting her shine on, everyone is chipping in and doing their part. 

Brittney Griner has been dropping 20-point games on the regular while Kia Nurse continues to wax hot from outside. A healthy Diana Taurasi is keeping the team steady as Bria Hartley, who hurt her ACL last year, is on track to returning to full form. 

Forget the shaky start, the Mercury could be peaking at the worst time for their opponents. 

Big-time ballers

Another team with the hot hand are the Connecticut Sun, having won nine straight games to cement their status as the number one team in the league. A lot of that has to do with Brionna Jones.

Jones is in the running for Most Improved Player because that’s exactly what she’s been doing for Connecticut this season: get better. After a 16-15 line against LA, Jones topped that with a 22-10 line versus Washington.

There are no signs that Jones is diverting from this upward trajectory any time soon.

For the Chicago Sky, Candace Parker has been playing big lately, as the team also goes for one final push for the playoffs.

Parker scored a big 30 points against the Las Vegas Aces recently, but it wasn’t enough to get the W. In their next game versus the Aces, Parker focused on not only getting buckets but also on being the leader Chicago needs. She scored 12 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the win that gave the Sky the playoff spot.

Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury, meanwhile, is still on that gold medal high. She dominated in Tokyo, then came back home to the WNBA to average 21 points per game on 57 percent shooting from the field. 

She can dunk, she can hit a 3, she can protect the rim. What can Griner not do?

Both Parker and Griner were recently named to the league’s 25 greatest players. Imagine still putting in work and already being recognized as one of the greats. 

Rounding up the 10 active players in the list are Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Elena Delle Donne, Sylvia Fowler, Angel McCoughtry, Nneka Ogwumike, Breanna Stewart, and Diana Taurasi.

Watch out for…

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