And then there were four.
It took two grueling, nail-biting, win-or-go-home games. However, when the smoke cleared, the Phoenix Mercury were still standing and moving on in the 2021 WNBA playoffs.
The team survived a scare from the New York Liberty in the first round. After walking into the game as nearly double-digit favorites, the Mercury squeaked out an 83-82 win thanks to the hot shooting of Sophie Cunningham.
Then they went on the road to face the Seattle Storm. The defending champions were without their best player Breanna Stewart, who missed the game with a left foot injury. Despite being the road favorites and franchise player Diana Taurasi gutting it out on a bad ankle, the Mercury needed overtime to cover the 3.5-point spread in an 85-80 win.
Now the WNBA playoffs are down to four teams, with two best-of-five series starting Tuesday to find out who will play for the championship. But the odds will once again be stacked against the Mercury when they take on the Las Vegas Aces in the semifinals.
Mercury AZ betting odds boosted to win WNBA title
When the playoffs started, the Mercury were +900 to win the championship — fifth-best out of the eight teams in the tournament. Now with only four teams remaining, those odds have shifted. While most sportsbooks all have them with the 3rd best odds, you’ll need to shop around to find the best bang for your buck.
|Team||DraftKings Sportsbook||Caesars Sportsbook||FanDuel Sportsbook||WynnBet Sportsbook|
|Las Vegas Aces||+190||+200||+195||+185|
As of now, Arizona mobile sportsbooks have not set odds on who will win this particular series. But with the Aces listed ahead of the Mercury on all the sportsbooks, the common belief is that Phoenix is heading into this series as the underdogs.
And that will be the case for Game 1 of the series. According to DraftKings Arizona, The Mercury are 5.5-point road dogs heading into Tuesday’s game, a line shared by FanDuel AZ. The over/under is at 169 total points. Player props will likely be listed closer to tip-off time.
(5) Phoenix Mercury at (2) Las Vegas Aces – Game 1
Date: Tuesday, Sept. 27
Time: 7:00 p.m. MST
Location: Michelob Ultra Arena – Paradise, Nevada
TV Coverage: ESPN2
Can Mercury’s veteran leadership carry them to WNBA Finals?
For the Phoenix Mercury, it’s just another playoff push. Same old, same old. Been there, done that. A team powered by its three stars with a mix of young and hungry sharpshooters.
Most of the attention will be on the health of Diana Taurasi. The “White Mamba” was clearly not at 100% during Sunday’s game against Seattle, but her presence made a difference down the stretch and in overtime. Look for Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith to carry the load.
Through two postseason games, Diggins-Smith leads the team in points (21.5) and assists (5.5). Meanwhile, Griner has been a monster inside, as usual, averaging 19.5 points and 13 rebounds per game.
The Las Vegas Aces have been sitting back and watching the first two rounds of action. They finished the regular season with a 24–8 record, earning them the No. 2 seed in the playoffs and a bye into the semis. The Aces are ledd by former first-overall draft pick and reigning league MVP A’ja Wilson. She had another MVP-caliber season as Las Vegas looks to head to the finals for the second consecutive season.
During the regular season, Phoenix went 1-2 with one overtime win against Las Vegas. All three games were relatively close with an average margin of victory of about five points. So Mercury fans should expect their team to put up a fight.
Mercury still searching for some home cooking
In a best-of-five format, the Phoenix Mercury are guaranteed at least one home game in the series. But, they will once again have to improvise.
Phoenix will play against the Aces in Las Vegas on Tuesday and Thursday before returning home for Game 3 next on Sunday. However, the first game in Arizona will not be at the team’s home court at the Footprint Center due to a scheduling conflict.
The Mercury’s first-round game against New York took place at Grand Canyon University Arena while the Footprint Center hosted a concert. Now Taurasi and company are being booted by Mickey Mouse and friends and a Disney On Ice show.
Instead, The Mercury will play Game 3 at Arizona State University’s Desert Financial Arena.