The first night of postseason play resulted with Diana Taurasi continuing her undefeated streak in elimination games in the Mercury’s win and the Sparks handing the Lynx a first-round loss playoff loss in which was a first for Minnesota in 14 years.
Phoenix Mercury vs. Dallas Wings:
The Phoenix Mercury defeated the Dallas Wings 101-83. Taurasi nabbed a double-double in the win with 26 points and 12 assists in one of her best winner-take-all performances to help the Mercury advance to the next round.
Taurasi came into Tuesday’s meeting against the Wings with a 12-0 record in winner-take-all games so she was not a stranger in performing with her back up against the wall. Being the floor general for the Mercury, she made plays and assists to give teammates better-shot opportunities. Phoenix’s offense flowed through Taurasi and center Griner which created some problems for Dallas in the game.
Dallas was able to keep the game close in the first half of the game but once the buzzer sounded to begin the second half, Taurasi and Phoenix dominated the game. In the third quarter alone, Taurasi scored six points and four assists as she notched her double-double with a nifty pass to Griner for a layup at the 7:24 mark of the quarter.
Phoenix also put on a three-point clinic with shooting 13 of those shots from that range. Taurasi and DeWanna Bonner scored six points combined from their three-point shots that were part of an 11-0 run for the Mercury. The team hit six three-pointers alone in the third quarter, as well.
Overall, the team shot 44.8% from three-point range.
Bonner finished the game with a game-high 29 points to go along with 11 rebounds while Griner finished with 17 points, five rebounds, and three assists.
Dallas just could not seem cut into their deficit with Phoenix in the second half of the game. Shots were not falling and they could not contain Phoenix on the defensive end of the floor. As a team, the Wings turned the ball over ten times and gave up 14 points on those turnovers to the Mercury.
The Wings duo of Skylar Diggins-Smith and Liz Cambage combined for 45 points on 17-35 shots with a 48% field goal percentage overall for them both.
With the rivalry between the Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks, the following game was a must see.
Los Angeles Sparks vs. Minnesota Lynx:
In an intense game, the Los Angeles Sparks prevailed against the Minnesota Lynx in a 75-68 win. In scoring 26 points, Chelsea Gray helped the Sparks defeat the Lynx
This loss for the Lynx was their first round one loss in the playoffs since the 2004 season. This matchup on Tuesday night was also the fourth straight meeting between the Sparks and Lynx in the postseason.
Both of the teams kept the game close throughout the game. Riquana Williams and Gray further extended the Sparks lead in combining for 17 points alone in the third quarter. Williams and Gray were also 5-5 from three-point range. In under two minutes left of the fourth quarter, Maya Moore missed two free throws for the Lynx then Gray hit a long jumper to give the Sparks a five-point lead.
Williams was tapped to start her fourth consecutive game of the season in this game. She also stepped up in this game and took some pressure off Ogwumike when she had three fouls.
Chelsea Gray also has a history of clutch play against the Lynx. Gray has performed well against Minnesota and she has most notably been known to hit well-timed buzzer beaters against the Lynx. Gray put on a show throughout this single-elimination game and lit a fire under her team.
Williams finished the game 17 points on 50% of shooting in field goal and three-point percentage. Ogwumike also finished the game with 19 points, five rebounds, and two steals.
Los Angeles did have some lapses on the defensive end of the court as they let Sylvia Fowles get hot in the paint. The Sparks also did give up 32 rebounds to Minnesota.
Fowles finished the game with 18 points, 12 rebounds, and three assists. Temi Fagbenle had a productive game for the Lynx with 15 points and four rebounds. Maya Moore scored 14 points along with grabbing four rebounds and three assists.
This was also Lindsay Whalen’s final postseason game as she announced her retirement at the end of the regular season. Whalen finished the game with nine points, five rebounds, and five assists.
The field for the second round is Phoenix Mercury against Connecticut Sun at 6:30 ET followed by the Los Angeles Sparks against the Washington Mystics at 8:30 ET on Thursday night on ESPN2.
Great job! Nice read, Megan.