Tue, 04 Oct 2022

Playoff hopes on the line, Mercury down two stars vs. Wings

Field Level Media
12 Aug 2022, 08:19 GMT+10

The Phoenix Mercury, locked in a five-way battle for the final two spots in the WNBA playoffs, will be without leading scorer Skylar Diggins-Smith when they host the Dallas Wings on Friday night.

Phoenix (14-20) is fighting Minnesota, Atlanta and New York, who all had identical records entering Thursday. Los Angeles is one game behind those four teams and also in contention.

The Mercury confirmed Thursday that Diggins-Smith would miss the final two games of the regular season for personal reasons. She missed their past two games, one with a non-COVID illness and Wednesday's 86-77 loss to Minnesota due to personal reasons.

She joins Diana Taurasi, who is out for the regular season with a quad injury. Both Taurasi and Diggins-Smith were missed as Phoenix lost 86-77 to Minnesota on Wednesday, their fourth loss in five games.

"We're just one day at a time moving forward. We've seen everything this year, so whatever gets thrown at us, we're ready to just lace them up and go," coach Vanessa Nygaard said, according to ESPN.

Diggins-Smith and Dallas' Arike Ogunbowale are virtually tied for the third in the WNBA this season with a scoring average of 19.7 points. Taurasi is ninth in the league in scoring (16.7).

Meanwhile, Dallas (17-17) has won five of its past six games and already clinched the sixth seed in the playoffs. But they too will be without their top scorer, as Ogunbowale is out through at least the first round of the playoffs with a hip injury.

Dallas is also without standout forward Satou Sabally, who hasn't played since July 12 due to an ankle injury.

Without Ogunbowale and Sabally, the Wings are relying more on 6-foot-7 center Teaira McCowan. Prior to this season, the Wings traded three first-round picks to acquire McCowan.

"She means everything to this team," Wings coach Vickie Johnson said of McCowan, who is averaging 10.7 points and 6.9 rebounds. "We want to be play inside out. When 'T' is in the game, we want to go to her in the post to get the other team in foul trouble.

"No one can guard her in the post if she is 100 percent healthy."

The good news for the Mercury on Friday is that they will be at home, where they are 10-6. Dallas has been respectable on the road at 9-7. However, Phoenix is just 1-2 against the Wings this year, including 0-1 at home.

--Field Level Media

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