WNBA playoffs: Sun-Sky, Aces-Mercury scenarios

It will only get more difficult from here for the No.5 seeds Phoenix Mercury and Chicago Sky No.6.

The WNBA semifinals kick off Tuesday, and while these two had some quick plane rides to catch after pulling upheavals (on paper, at least) Connecticut Sun No.1 and Las Vegas Aces No.2 were waiting for him. The final four teams include the three best attacks of the season, the two best defenses and only one team that won a championship. It would be the Mercury with titles in 2007, ’09 and ’14.

Only one unranked No.1 or No.2 team has reached the WNBA Finals since the new format was introduced in 2016. And that was the No.3 Washington Mystics, so Mercury and Sky could step into it. history with the legitimate upheaval.

Here’s how to watch the series in the best of five and what to watch out for as the playoffs continue. This message will be updated after each match with the results and keys for the next match.

WNBA Semifinals TV Show

Game 1: Tuesday

Chicago at Connecticut, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Phoenix at Las Vegas, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Game 2: Thursday

Chicago at Connecticut, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Phoenix at Las Vegas, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Game 3: Sunday

Connecticut at Chicago, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN

Las Vegas at Phoenix, 3 p.m. ET, ABC

Game 4 (if necessary): Wednesday October 6

Connecticut to Chicago, TBD, ESPN

Las Vegas to Phoenix, TBD, ESPN

Game 5 (if necessary): Friday October 8

Chicago, Connecticut, TBD, ESPN2

Phoenix in Las Vegas, TBD, ESPN2

The WNBA Finals begin Sunday, October 10 at 3 p.m. ET on ABC.

Connecticut Sun forward Jonquel Jones is dangerous in the paint and outside the arc. (Photo by Mr. Anthony Nesmith / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

No.1 Connecticut Sun vs. No.6 Chicago Sky

Previously: Chicago won the series of the season, 2-1. All were in June when Sun was without Jonquel Jones.

Traces: Connecticut has 14 straight regular season wins since July 3. They are 15-1 at home this season. The Sky are on a three-game winning streak.

How will Chicago deal with Jones? Sky have yet to face a fully loaded Sun squad as Jones, the likely MVP, missed time at EuroBasket. She averaged 19.4 points per game (fourth overall), 11.2 rpg (first) and 1.3 bpg (10th). Most detrimental to opponents, she can back off and hit 3s at a good clip.

Sky will also face Alyssa Thomas, who returned in the final days of the season after recovering from an Achilles tendon injury. Head Coach Curt Miller said on Monday that Thomas had been more aggressive in training after being a little shy in those first games.

Which Sky team will show up? Chicago’s victory in the second round was not too surprising as when this team played their best, they easily placed in the top four in the league. But there were gaps and a lack of consistency throughout the year. So far in the playoffs, we’ve seen Sky at their best for seven of eight quarters. They will need to continue down that path and be the defensive team that we saw at the start of the season and the playoffs to progress.

The sun shines in defense: Connecticut has the top-ranked team in defensive rating (93.7) and points allowed (69.9). The Sun leads both categories with a significant margin. Sky scored 81 and 91 points on them in consecutive games in June, but were limited to 58 a week later in the only game played at Mohegan Sun Arena. In their 14-game winning streak, the Sun have allowed an average of 64.2 points.

Jones received votes for Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the All-Defensive First Team with Briann January. Brionna Jones and Jasmine Thomas were named in the second team.

No. 2 Las Vegas Aces vs. No. 5 Phoenix Mercury

Previously: The Aces won the series of the season, 2-1. That includes an 84-83 win on the final day, with most starters getting limited minutes. It was the last game played by the Aces.

Traces: The Mercury lost three to get out of the regular season, but won both playoff elimination games. The Aces are on a four-game winning streak.

Can Diana Taurasi continue? The league’s all-time leader limped and grimaced for much of the overtime victory over the Storm in the second round. It’s hard to imagine that improving over the 48 hour window of the first game. Never mind that the Mercury will play roughly every other day in the semifinals. Still, Taurasi had 14 points, four rebounds, five assists and one steal while hitting clutch shots when needed. His leadership and veteran energy are invaluable and head coach Sandy Brondello also cited his composure in keeping the team stable.

BG vs. Liz: Brittney Griner (20.4 points per game, 9.7 rpg) of the Mercury will face Liz Cambage, 6-foot-8 (14.2 points per game, 8.2 rpg), in a tied position. Griner scored 33 points and 10 rebounds, a season-high, in Mercury’s lone win. She was 27 and 11, respectively, in the first game. Cambage has approached the double-double in these competitions, but has more offensive weapons. The regular season finale was her first comeback after contracting COVID-19, and she said she lost her cardio levels during this.

Big 3 against everyone: The Mercury mainly relied on their Big 3s of Griner, Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith. They are the only Phoenix players to have a double-digit average and combine for 65% of the team’s score. They will need more, like what they got from Sophie Cunningham in the first round.

Aces are the opposite. It’s a team with incredible depth behind Dearica Hamby and Kelsey Plum, two times sixth woman of the year, who are one of the main contenders for this year’s award. The team set a record with seven players in a double-digit score. Plum, Jackie Young, Chelsea Gray and reigning league MVP A’ja Wilson all averaged 15.3 to 16.5 points in the three games against the Mercury.

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