Mercury without Skylar Diggins-Smith, Diana Taurasi in playoff opener vs. Aces

Aug 17, 2022, 8:30 AM
Skylar Diggins-Smith #4 of the Phoenix Mercury attempts a shot against the Minnesota Lynx during th...
Skylar Diggins-Smith #4 of the Phoenix Mercury attempts a shot against the Minnesota Lynx during the second half of the WNBA game at Footprint Center on June 21, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Lynx defeated the Mercury 84-71. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The No. 8 seed Phoenix Mercury will open the 2022 WNBA Playoffs against the top-seeded Las Vegas Aces on the road Wednesday without their two best players.

Skylar Diggins-Smith (personal reasons) and Diana Taurasi (quadriceps) were ruled out on the official injury report released Tuesday night, joining Kia Nurse (ACL recovery) on the list of players expected to be out.

None of that is surprising considering the circumstances, though head coach Vanessa Nygaard after the regular season finale on Sunday left the door open for the possibility those players could return at some point in the postseason.

Forward Kaela Davis, who scored 11 points Sunday, is additionally questionable for Game 1 against the Aces with a right ankle injury.

Tip in Las Vegas is set for 7 p.m. and it will air on ESPN.

The rotation for Phoenix should look similar to what the team ran out in its final four regular season games, which Diggins-Smith missed. Taurasi was out the final five games.

Diggins-Smith (19.7 points per game) and Taurasi (16.7) were the top two scorers for the Mercury after center Tina Charles (17.3) was released midseason.

The Mercury went 2-2 without Diggins-Smith and Taurasi in the final stretch of the regular season, with Diamond DeShields leading the team in scoring for two games. Sophie Cunningham did so once and reserve center Megan Gustafson led the team with 12 off the bench in the regular season finale.

Phoenix started DeShields, Cunningham, forward Brianna Turner, plus Jennie Simms and Shey Peddy in the outings with Diggins-Smith and Taurasi out.

Gustafson, Reshanda Gray, rookie Sam Thomas and hardship signings Davis and Yvonne Turner have played reserve minutes off the bench.

The Mercury (15-21) went 0-3 with three double-digit losses against Las Vegas in the regular season but had all those matchups early on in the year. They have not squared off since May 21.

Las Vegas (26-10) will also host Game 2 of the first-round series on Saturday. A potential Game 3 will be played in Phoenix on Tuesday if the Mercury wins one of the first two games.

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