After all odds were stacked against the Phoenix Mercury winning a crucial game, they rose to the challenge and won. With both teams fighting for the last remaining WNBA playoff spots, the Phoenix Mercury rose the highest against the New York Liberty in a home game.
On Saturday, the Mercury (14-19) played the New York Liberty (13-19), another team trying to make the playoffs. The Mercury continued to baffling on the court.
Without their two best playmakers, Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith, the Mercury didn’t have much of a chance against a surging Liberty team. The Mercury, however, thrived in their role as the underdog, and their 76-62 victory at Footprint Center sent shockwaves through the playoff race.
The Mercury didn’t look significantly weaker without Taurasi and Diggins-Smith, despite both of them missing two games due to injuries (Taurasi’s quad, and Diggins-non-COVID Smith’s illness).
DeShields lit it up for the Mercury and finished with 25 points to lead the team in scoring. In her second game back from a hip injury, she was right back to her old self, sparking the Mercury to an early lead with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting. DeShields wowed with athletic plays here and there throughout the game, including a layup made in the paint despite being knocked down by Marine Johannes at 8:26 of the second quarter.
Third time Lucky for Mercury and Vice Versa for the Liberty
The Liberty had their three-game winning streak snapped by the Mercury, while the Mercury ended their own three-game losing streak. Since the top eight teams in the standings make the playoffs, the Mercury’s 14-19 record is better than the Liberty’s 13-19 record, placing the Mercury in eighth place.
On Saturday, the Mercury defeated the Liberty in a decisive regular season game, and DeShields scored 25 points to lead the team. In the event of a tie in the standings between Phoenix and New York at the end of the season, Phoenix would advance to the postseason because of its 2-1 record against the Mets.
The Mercury are 14-19 right now, while the Liberty are 13-19, putting them half a game behind.
Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard about the Team’s Performance
The starting five for the Mercury all had at least seven rebounds, and they had 38 of the team’s 40 total, addressing a problem area that had plagued them in their previous three games. Replacement for Diggins-Smith in the starting lineup was Jennie Simms, a guard who contributed eight boards and three assists.
“We have some tough individuals. It’s not easy to make it as a pro athlete and this group has had to battle through a lot this year. They’re tenacious, tough, and they know things are getting thrown at them constantly throughout this season. We’ve had every kind of thing thrown our way and they showed up ready to battle as hard as they could.”