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WNBA Finals: 5 players to watch as the Phoenix Mercury take on the Chicago Sky

In another doubleheader with the Phoenix Suns, Game 2 will tip off at 6 p.m. at the Footprint Center Wednesday.
Credit: AP
Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi (3) celebrates with teammates after they defeated the Las Vegas Aces 87-84 in Game 5 of a WNBA basketball playoff series Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Chase Stevens)

PHOENIX β€” The Phoenix Mercury are looking to get even. 

After a disappointing 91-77 Game 1 loss to the Chicago Sky in the WNBA Finals, the Mercury hope to even the series before heading to the windy city for the next two games. 

The Mercury are averaging 87.8 points per game in the playoffs compared to their opponents, who have averaged 84.6 points. 

Here are five players to watch for while rooting for Phoenix during the Finals.

RELATED: Phoenix is the first city to have NBA, WNBA teams reach finals in nearly 20 years

Sophie Cunningham

Cunningham has been a quiet force for the Mercury during the regular season, even though she averaged personal bests of 5.6 points per game while shooting 43.7% from the field and 41.0% from three.

However, the 25-year-old has come alive during the postseason, offering Phoenix an extra boost at the most pivotal times. 

When the Mercury were facing elimination and trailing behind the New York Liberty in the first round of the playoffs, Cunningham lit the scoreboard on fire. 

She scored a career-high of 21 points, including six made 3-pointers out of seven attempts. To seal the deal, she scored a 3-pointer with less than two minutes left in the game to give Phoenix the lead and ultimately the win. 

The Mercury will need the same energy from Cunningham to avoid being down 2-0 on the road. 

Brianna Turner

Turner has claimed her identity as a defensive bombshell ever since she was named to the All-WNBA Defensive Team in 2020.

She finished last season leading the league in blocks per game (2.0) and total blocks (43). She was second in Mercury history to be named to the All-WNBA First Team.

The 6-3 forward is leading the team in both rebounds per game (10.1) and in blocks (2.1) during the playoffs.

Turner will be key in keeping the defense up as the Sky try to break down Griner. 

Skylar Diggins-Smith

Since joining Phoenix in a trade with the Dallas Wings in February 2020, Diggins-Smith has proven to be a huge asset for the team. 

Last season, Diggins-Smith averaged 17.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game, ranking 8th in the league in scoring and 10th in assists. That made Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi the only two players in the league to rank in the top-10 in both scoring and assists.

This post-season, Diggins-Smith is leading the team in assists (5.5) and is third in average points (14.6). 

The four-time WNBA All-star has been deemed a part of Mercury's "big three" which includes the fan-voted G.O.A.T Taurasi, and Griner. 

The three combined for 52 points in Game 1 of the Finals. 

Brittney Griner

Not a lot needs to be said for the 6-9 center. Griner does all of her talking on the court and there's never much left to be said after a game. 

Griner has become almost unstoppable. She currently leads the team in points during the post-season with 20.9. She's also leading the league in blocks and averaging a career-best 9.5 rebounds per game. 

The key for Game 2 is making sure Griner stays unstoppable by dominating both ends of the floor. The Sky could only hope to contain Griner if she continues to capitalize. 

Diana Taurasi 

After Taurasi was recently voted by fans as the WNBA's greatest player of all time, it's hard not to think of the Mercury as invincible when she's playing.

However, it's her playing time that remains a concern. While Taurasi told ESPN that her performance on Game 1, which included a season-high of six turnovers, was only due to bad basketball, head coach Sandy Brondello said the team was clearly dealing with the onslaught of fatigue. 

Even though Phoenix came out of the semifinals against the Las Vegas Aces victorious, Taurasi entered the series limping. It's also worth mentioning that Taurasi and her wife just welcomed a newborn baby. 

Fans can only hope that they see a refreshed, healthy and activated Taurasi in Game 2. 

RELATED: Diana Taurasi races to Phoenix hospital for birth of daughter after Game 5 win


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