One Team Looks To Gain Edge in Series
The Liberty and Mercury will go head to head in their final matchup of the season Saturday night in Phoenix.
The teams have already played each other twice, with each winning a game on their respective home courts.
Both New York and Phoenix have yet to clinch a playoff spot, with New York sitting in seventh place in the standings and Phoenix a half-game behind.
While both teams look pretty similar, with the Liberty holding a 13-18 record and the Mercury 13-19 and both going 4-6 in their last 10 games, the Liberty appear to be the stronger team. New York has won three in a row while Phoenix is coming off their third loss in as many games.
The first game between these two was a close contest July 7 in Phoenix, with the Mercury winning 84-81. Diana Taurasi and Sophie Cunningham each scored 23 for Phoenix while Sabrina Ionescu led the way for New York with 22 points.
The second meeting was a much different game, with the Liberty defeating the Mercury 89-69 on July 31 in New York. Phoenix couldn’t get much going beyond the arc, shooting 24%, while New York finished 46.2% from 3. Natasha Howard led the Liberty with 23 points and 12 rebounds while Ionescu dished out 16 assists.
With the way things have been going for both teams, a win on the road shouldn’t be out of reach for New York.
Ionescu on Fire
The Liberty have been on a roll lately, winning four of their last five games, and an integral part of those wins has been Ionescu.
Ionescu was drafted first overall in the 2020 WNBA Draft and has been an important part of New York’s offense since.
Ionescu has been leading the Liberty offense in points and assists, averaging 17.5 points and 6.4 assists a game, good for eighth and third in the league respectively.
In New York’s last two wins, Ionescu played a strong role in defeating Los Angeles. In the most recent game, a 64-61 win, she led the team with 20 points, scoring eight of those in the final 2:18 to help come back from a 15-point deficit and win. The game prior, Ionescu scored a team-high 31 points to defeat the Sparks 102-73.
She also played a part in New York’s recent victory over Phoenix, scoring 10 points and had 16 assists to help the team win by 20, while her three-point play with 9.7 seconds left to down Chicago 83-80 is also not to be forgotten.
New York is sure to have a chance against Phoenix with Ionescu on the floor.
Taurasi In or Out?
While Ionescu has been a key part of New York’s team, Taurasi has been a mainstay in Phoenix for years.
Drafted first overall in 2004 by Phoenix, Taurasi has been with the Mercury her whole career, winning numerous awards, including the WNBA Championship three times.
Taurasi has been a strong veteran presence for the Mercury this season and has been the second leading scorer on the team, averaging 16.7 points a game. She’s also second on the team in assists, sending out 3.9 a game.
However, the Mercury may be without one of their leaders when the Liberty come to town, as Taurasi is listed as questionable for Saturday’s game with a quad injury.
Taurasi missed Phoenix’s most recent game as well, her first missed game of the season, which resulted in a 77-64 loss to the Sun.
Without her, Mercury will have to rely on others, such as leading scorer Skylar Diggins-Smith and Cunningham, to make up for the loss.
Nevertheless, whether or not Taurasi decides to play will be something to keep an eye on for the upcoming game.
Liberty vs Mercury Game Information
- Game: Liberty 13-18 (5-9 on the road) vs Mercury 13-19 (9-5 at home)
- Location: Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ
- Day/Time: Saturday, August 6, 10 p.m. ET
- Live Stream: WNBA.com
Liberty vs Mercury Odds
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|Mercury||+115||163 -110u||80½ -115u|
Liberty vs Mercury Prediction
While both teams are still looking to secure their spot in the playoffs, the Liberty have been doing a better job at ensuring they will make it to the postseason.
Although this game is in Arizona, New York should be able to grab a win on the road and make it four in a row, though Phoenix won’t make it as easy as the last meeting.