2021 WNBA playoffs – Phoenix Mercury punch for final in front of record crowd


Game 5 of the WNBA Western Semifinals was a heavyweight fight between two stellar franchises. The Phoenix Mercury outlasted the Las Vegas Aces 87-84 on Friday, netting their ticket to the championship round – with a shorthanded roster.

It was a back and forth affair, but the fourth quarter belonged to Diana Taurasi and the Mercury. The “White Mamba” scored 14 points in the final quarter after a calm three quarters of it. Brittney Griner also came out on top with 28 points, a game-high and a key block over Aces A’ja Wilson in final possession.

The Michelob Arena in Las Vegas rocked throughout this high-stakes game. The 9,680 people in attendance set a record for an Ace game. Fans were eager to see this postseason game.

The Aces arrived ready to defend their home ground, but first they had to show their fashion sense. Wilson wore iconic basketball players’ jerseys throughout the playoffs and she decided to wear one with a personal connection for Game 5. She rocked a Dawn Staley Virginia jersey before the game, showing his love to his old trainer. Staley coached Wilson from 2014-18, and they both led the South Carolina Gamecocks to a national championship in 2017.

Staley made sure to return love to his former player.

After the two teams warmed up, it was time for the Mercury and Aces to go head to head in a game to win or come home 5. WNBA legend and Basketball Hall of Fame member. ball Tamika Catchings expressed her excitement on social media, as she was ready to watch these two teams fight for a trip to the final.

The Chicago Sky – which already clinched a berth in the championship round on Wednesday, waited patiently to see who they were up against – while doing a bit of scouting in the process.

The game felt like a playoff competition because it was physical from the start. The Mercury was led by Shey Peddy in the first, who scored seven points at the start. His score and the physical nature of the Phoenix defense allowed them to take a 20-14 lead after one.

In the second, the Aces responded with quality shots from depth – especially from Kelsey Plum. She drained two shots from beyond the arc in the quarter while Liz Cambage and Wilson kept things low.

After a crazy first half, the Mercury had a slim 44-42 lead in the locker room.

The Aces got off to a good start in the third – thanks to 2020 League MVP Wilson. She stole a key on a pass from Taurasi, causing a clear path fault. She followed that up with an offensive rebound and handed over the next offensive possession.

The stars were out for this do or die game – and they enjoyed every minute of it. Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Clelin Ferrell was in the arena for the entertaining game. His teammate Casey Hayward Jr. was also at the game. Former MLB player and two-time World Series champion David Justice also made an appearance and had time on the jumbotron during the contest.

The Mercury didn’t shoot well on the three throughout the game, and the Aces took advantage of the quick break, starting a 14-0 run in the third. Chelsea Gray and Cambage led the way, each scoring six points in the third quarter.

The game was hectic from start to finish, and it got even more tense as we approached the fourth. Jackie Young and Taurasi exchanged a few words when the bell rang, to be separated by officials.

Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to get under Taurasi’s skin, and it came back to bite Young and the Aces.

In the last picture, Taurasi started doing his usual “White Mamba” stuff. She scored a few clutch buckets in a 10-0 Mercury race, giving them the lead early in the fourth.

The Aces responded to Mercury’s run with the help of timely buckets from Plum and Gray.

The game ended in chaos, as Taurasi drained a three-way green light with less than a minute to go. However, Gray and the Aces weren’t quite done yet, as she conceded her own three-point pointer to tie the game.

It’s safe to say that everyone watching the game didn’t want it to end as both teams left everything on the floor.

Unfortunately for Las Vegas, a Shey Peddy three-point foul with Mercury’s next possession remaining turned out to be a costly mistake. Peddy made two of three free throws to increase the lead to two, but the Aces still had a chance to tie the game. They gave the ball to Wilson – hoping she would make a play, but Griner blocked her shot on the edge with less than a second left. The game was over by then – an incredible ending to what was a phenomenal 5 game.

Phoenix Suns goalie Chris Paul made sure to congratulate the Mercury on their place in the final – as Arizona’s two professional basketball teams reached the championship round in their respective 2021 seasons. The WNBA Phoenix team will face Sky on Sunday for Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.


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