Live And Let Die: Phoenix Mercury 2021 WNBA Playoffs Second-Round Betting Preview

Written By Derek Helling on September 26, 2021 - Last Updated on October 1, 2021
Phoenix Mercury Playoffs WNBA Second Round

After the team was nearly the victim of one of the biggest WNBA postseason upsets ever, the Phoenix Mercury continues on to the second round of the playoffs with a trip to face the defending champs.

For bettors, the big storyline is the status of two of the game’s biggest stars.

Breanna Stewart will not take the court for the Seattle Storm Sunday and the team felt her absence as the regular season wound down. However, Phoenix is facing an injury situation of its own that could level the action on the court.

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Will the Phoenix Mercury playoffs continue without Diana Taurasi?

Neither Stewart nor Mercury guard Diana Taurasi have played since early September due to injuries. Phoenix has been more adjusted to playing without “The White Mamba” this season than Seattle without Stewart, though.

Taurasi missed exactly half of the regular season for the Mercury this year. In fact, she missed all three regular-season meetings with the Storm. Seattle won the season series 2-1 despite playing the last meeting without Stewart.

Taurasi will again be a game-time decision, testing her ankle just before tip to see how it feels. On Thursday, that was a no-go. If not for a red-hot game by one of Phoenix’s other guards, Taurasi’s absence might have led to an early exit.

Sophie Cunningham saves Mercury’s season

The Mercury’s Sophie Cunningham contributed a career-high 21 points on Thursday against the New York Liberty in Taurasi’s absence. It proved to be just enough, as Phoenix escaped with an 83-82 win over New York.

The Liberty came into the postseason with the lowest net rating for a WNBA playoff team ever. They lost nine of their final 11 regular-season games but in a single-elimination format, none of that matters.

If Taurasi can’t go, the Mercury might need Cunningham to set another career-high on Sunday. It’s hard to overstate the impact of Taurasi on the team. There’s the experience she contributes with 61 career postseason games, for starters.

It’s also worth noting that Phoenix went 12-4 with the only WNBA player to net 9,000 career points on the court this season. Without her, the Mercury were 7-9. If she attempts to play, bettors could see lines swing drastically, especially with Stewart out. Taurasi’s biggest impact might be on the defensive end.

Seattle’s hidden gem could be a problem for Phoenix

Casual WNBA fans might not be familiar with Storm guard Jewell Loyd. Hardcore Mercury supporters know all about her, though. She dropped 37 points to help Seattle beat Phoenix on Sept. 17 and has been having her best season so far by several metrics.

With or without Taurasi, limiting Loyd will be a priority for the Mercury. It just becomes easier to accomplish with her. Even with Taurasi’s status unknown, AZ sports betting apps currently think Phoenix will prevail.

SportsbookSpreadTotalMoneyline
DraftKings SportsbookPhoenix -3.5 -110
Seattle +3.5 -110
Over 162 -105
Under 162 -115
Phoenix -160
Seattle +140
Caesars SportsbookPhoenix -3.5 -110
Seattle +3.5 -110
Over 160.5 -110
Under 160.5 -110
Phoenix -160
Seattle +140
FanDuel SportsbookPhoenix -3.5 -108
Seattle +3.5 -112
Over 161.5 -105
Under 161.5 -115
Phoenix -168
Seattle +136
BetMGM SportsbookPhoenix -3.5 -110
Seattle +3.5 -110
Over 161.5 -110
Under 161.5 -110
Phoenix -155
Seattle +125
WynnBet SportsbookPhoenix -3.5 -110
Seattle +3.5 -110
Over 160.5 -110
Under 160.5 -110
Phoenix -165
Seattle +140

The three regular-season meetings between these teams averaged 159.33 points. Two of those games featured Stewart in the Storm lineup, however. Without her, the final meeting produced the lowest total of the three at 157 points.

Whether Phoenix can cover the 3.5-point spread, which they failed to do Thursday, or eke out another one-point win is for bettors to decide. The later game on Sunday will decide where the Mercury go in the semifinals if they do defeat Seattle.

What happens if the Mercury win Sunday?

Should Phoenix live and let the Storm’s season die, the Mercury will move on to a best-of-five semifinal series against either the Connecticut Sun or Las Vegas Aces. The WNBA reseeds each of its playoff rounds.

Connecticut will play the lowest surviving seed from the second round in the semis, which would be Phoenix if the Minnesota Lynx defeat the Chicago Sky Sunday evening. If Chicago wins, the Sky would be the lowest surviving seed, sending the Mercury to face Las Vegas instead.

Before they can worry about a Game 1 in either Las Vegas or Uncasville, they need to see whether Taurasi can play then find a way to limit Loyd. Those two guards’ performances today, or lack thereof, could determine the contest.

(5) Phoenix Mercury at (4) Seattle Storm
Date: Sunday, Sept. 26
Time: Noon MST
Location: Angel of the Winds Arena – Everett, Washington
TV Coverage: ABC

Photo by Dreamstime
Derek Helling Avatar
Written by
Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

View all posts by Derek Helling