Moore: Phoenix Mercury Must Rely On Brittney Griner If Theyre Going To Win Championship

It’s all on Brittney Griner if the Phoenix Mercury are going to win the 2021 WNBA title.

Oct 13, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Chicago Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot (22) makes a basket that sent the game into overtime against the Phoenix Mercury during game two of the WNBA Finals. © Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic Oct 13, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Chicago Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot (22) makes a basket that sent the game into overtime against the Phoenix Mercury during game two of the WNBA Finals.

Chicago has too much everything for Phoenix to rely on Diana Taurasi or Skylar Diggins-Smith for long stretches, but the Sky can’t match Phoenix’s skyscraper of a center.

In Game 2, a 91-86 Phoenix win to even the best-of-five series at 1-1, Griner scored her squad’s first 10 points, which included a dunk.

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She finished the game leading all scorers with 29.

It seemed like every time Phoenix needed to make a play in the fourth quarter, Griner was there.

Her offense was the only thing that gave Phoenix a chance to win.

DT had 20 points on 16 shots, most of which came in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Through the first three quarters, Taurasi had just six points on 3-for-8 shooting, which included going 0 for 5 from behind the arc.

Diggins-Smith, meanwhile, had as many missed shots (13) as she did points (13).

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There’s no way those two will continue to shoot that poorly, and they each had their moments (like when Diggins-Smith put Courtney Vandersloot on skates with about 15 seconds left in overtime or Taurasi’s four-point play in the fourth quarter).


Video: The Rush: Mercury win Game 2 overtime thriller over Sky in WNBA Finals (Yahoo! Sports)

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The Mercury role players, meanwhile, look like they’re in retrograde.

In Game 1, Phoenix got just nine points off the bench.

In Game 2, that climbed to only 12.  

Sophie Cunningham was a bright spot, going 3 for 4 from 3-point range in her return from a leg injury that kept her out of the first game. But her minutes were limited. Cunningham was the only Phoenix starter who played less than 30 minutes Wednesday night.

But no matter what the Mercury get from their starting backcourt or their role players, the squad is going to have to rely on Griner.

Outside of Stefanie Dolson, the Mercury can’t come close to matching Griner’s size.

BG was able to post up smaller defenders seemingly at will. She shot 12 for 19, and it didn’t seem like she was breaking a sweat most of the night.

It was 15-10 before another Phoenix player besides Griner scored.

She was even bigger in the fourth quarter.

Griner had a 3-point play with about 4:40 left, giving Phoenix a 70-69 lead, its first since the first half, and she had two other go-ahead baskets in the closing minutes.

Griner towered over the Sky in Game 2, an expansion of the Phoenix-high 20 points she put up in a losing effort in Game 1.

She’s the only player Phoenix has who will have a consistent mismatch every night.

Candace Parker, Kahleah Cooper and Courtney Vandersloot can play Taurasi and Diggins-Smith even on a good night.

But the only way the Sky can contain Griner is if Griner stops herself.

She can’t do it by herself, but it’s going to be on BG if the Mercury are going to win the title this season.  

Reach Moore at gmoore@azcentral.com or 602-444-2236. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @SayingMoore.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Moore: Phoenix Mercury must rely on Brittney Griner if they're going to win championship

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/more-sports/moore-phoenix-mercury-must-rely-on-brittney-griner-if-theyre-going-to-win-championship/ar-AAPwevb

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Moore: Phoenix Mercury must rely on Brittney Griner if theyre going to win championship

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Moore: Phoenix Mercury must rely on Brittney Griner if theyre going to win championship