Mercury set for Game 5 vs. Storm after becoming first to come back from 0-2
After winning a pair of single-elimination games to get into the semifinals of the WNBA playoffs, the Phoenix Mercury faced another challenge.
They fell behind 0-2 to the Seattle Storm, the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
On Sunday, the Mercury became the first team in WNBA history to come back from a 2-0 deficit to force a winner-take-all Game 5.
The final game of the semifinals will take place in Seattle against the Storm at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
So far, the series has consisted of an insane overtime-forcing 3-pointer from guard Diana Taurasi in Game 2, an 18-point half from forward DeWanna Bonner in Game 3 and a go-ahead basket followed by suffocating defense from center Brittney Griner to finish a 17-point Game 4 comeback.
Can the Mercury survive one more game?
They hope Taurasi has a say.
In her 14th year on the Mercury, Taurasi’s longevity, individual accolades and championship pedigree has firmly entrenched her in the conversation of Arizona’s Mount Rushmore of professional athletes.
Taurasi is 13-0 in winner-take-all games, including two such wins in this postseason alone.
She is 19-5 in overall playoff elimination games as a pro.
She’s also the WNBA all-time leader in regular season and postseason points and 3-pointers made.
But she’s not on her own.
When Taurasi got injured and missed the majority of the 2012 season, the Mercury went through a “rebuild” reminiscent to the San Antonio Spurs in the 1996-97 season.
That year, after the Spurs lost Hall of Famer David Robinson to injury, they bottomed out and used the first overall pick on Tim Duncan. Robinson returned. They won the championship two years later.
With the No. 1 pick in 2013, the Mercury drafted Griner, who had wowed the college game and has since led the WNBA in blocks every year she’s been a pro.
The Mercury won the WNBA Finals two years later.
It was Phoenix’s third championship, the other two coming with Taurasi in 2007 and 2009, but this year’s team is even further removed from the pre-Griner days.
Since, Bonner has made two All-Star games and established herself as a star.
She has scored 20 points or more in nine straight games, including all six playoff games this year.
Bonner is leading the WNBA in playoff scoring with 25.4 points per game (minimum of two games played).
In the must-win Game 3 of the semifinals, Bonner scored 27 points on a night where Taurasi didn’t make a basket until the fourth quarter.
The trio face a star and a legend in Seattle.
The Storm have 11-time All-Star guard Sue Bird, the all-time WNBA leader in assists.
Despite breaking her nose in Game 4, Bird will play Game 5 with a mask, according to the Seattle Times.
But over the last couple years, forward Breanna Stewart has stolen the headlines. She was named MVP in just her third year in the WNBA after averaging 21.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals and blocks apiece.
It was a continuation of her dominant college career, where she became the only player to be named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player more than twice.
She won it all four years as the Huskies won four NCAA Championships.
UConn’s streak of 111 consecutive wins started when Stewart was a junior.
Now on the Storm, she’s chasing her first WNBA championship.
Games 3 and 4 were the first time Seattle lost back-to-back games all season.
On Tuesday night, the Mercury will try to make it three Phoenix victories in a row.
Doing so would earn them a spot in the Finals.
7 p.m. MST
ESPNews / NBA TV