Since the league implemented its current playoff format in 2016, no team that played a first-round game has ever made the WNBA Finals. But two upstarts stand just one game away from ending that streak, as the Phoenix Mercury and Chicago Sky each have 2-1 leads in their respective semifinal series.
The Mercury hold a 2-1 lead over the No. 2 seeded Las Vegas Aces, while the Chicago Sky have the top-seeded Connecticut Sun on the brink of elimination. Both will play Game 4 of their semifinal matchups on Wednesday.
Aces lacking on offense during semifinal series
Phoenix had to play Game 3 of its semifinal series – a home game – at Arizona State University’s Desert Financial Arena because of a scheduling conflict with Disney on Ice at the Footprint Center. It hardly mattered, however, as the Mercury blew out the Aces 87-60 to take the lead in the series.
Brianna Turner scored 23 points, while Brittney Griner added 18 in the win. Phoenix has now won two straight games after Las Vegas opened the series with a 96-90 victory at home.
Liz Cambage scored 13 for the Aces in Game 3. Afterward, she opined that something isn’t quite right with her team.
“We’re lacking,” Cambage said, via the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I don’t feel like this is our team right now. I think it comes from the jump. We’re a team that plays a lot better with pressure on us.”
Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer bemoaned a stagnant offense after the Game 3 loss.
“Too many pick-and-rolls. Not enough ball movement,” Laimbeer said afterward. “We have another game to play Wednesday. I think we’re going to play our best game in that one.”
Las Vegas now faces a real fight to reach the WNBA Finals. The Aces come into Game 4 as just a 1.5-point favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The Mercury are now the -220 pick to win the series.
Copper powers Chicago to 2-1 series lead
In the other WNBA semifinal, Kahleah Copper scored 26 points to lead Chicago to an 86-83 win over the Sun in Game 3 on Sunday.
“When she’s like this, it’s over,” Chicago center Candace Parker said of Cooper. “We remember the big plays, but it’s those and some.”
|WNBA Semifinal Odds – Game 4|
|Connecticut Sun (-4.5): -112||Chicago Sky (+4.5): -108|
|Las Vegas Aces (-1.5): -106||Phoenix Mercury (+1.5): -114|
Connecticut had chances to take the lead or send the game to overtime in the final seconds. Briann January missed a layup with the Sun down 84-83, and the Sun failed to score on their next possession as well.
“They got some loose balls tonight and they were a little tougher down the stretch,” Connecticut wing DeWanna Bonner told reporters. “Right now, ‘What if we made that shot?,’ ‘What if we got that rebound?’ is all we’re thinking about.”
The Sun come into Game 4 as a 4.5-point favorite on the road. However, the series is now a tossup, with FanDuel giving both teams -110 odds of winning the semifinal series.
Connecticut remains the +180 favorite to win the WNBA Championship, ahead of Phoenix (+250), Chicago (+320), and Las Vegas (+400).