The Phoenix Mercury are reeling without Brittney Griner, so much so that fans could be starting to worry about the odds of a deep playoff run.
For the Phoenix Mercury, the last few weeks have not been exactly been a highpoint of the 2017 WNBA season.
After losing All-Star Brittney Griner to a bone bruise in her left knee, things have not been going well. The Mercury have lost six of their last eight games, the latest a 85-80 loss to the Washington Mystics on Sunday.
For Phoenix, defense, which Griner excelled at, has become a major issue. Turnovers are happening with alarming frequency and the Mercury are being outrebounded almost every game. Against the Mystics alone, they were outrebounded 42-26 and three consecutive turnovers at the end of the game cost Phoenix a chance at a victory.
Diana Taurasi scored 16 to lead Phoenix followed by Yvonne Turner with 15, while the Mercury shot 43.9 percent including 34.8 percent from beyond the arc.
The loss puts the Mercury at 13-12 on the season and they continue to sit at the No. 5 spot in the overall WNBA standings. The problem is that they have two teams right on their heels in the New York Liberty and Dallas Wings. And while the Liberty aren’t currently impressing anyone with their play, the Wings are impressing everyone with their skills on the court and could feasibly leap over the Mercury in the final playoff seeding.
Phoenix’s upcoming schedule doesn’t help matters any. They play Dallas next on Thursday in what could be a game with huge playoff implications and finish the regular season playing some of the hottest teams in the WNBA, including the Connecticut Sun and the Minnesota Lynx.
So, with all the being said, are the odds of Phoenix being able to make a deep run in the postseason and play in the WNBA Finals getting slimmer by the day?
Much of that will depend on Griner and when she makes her comeback to the hardwood. It is expected she will return before the end of the season, but being able to play and playing at her usual high level are two completely different things.
If the playoff began today, the Mercury would play the Atlanta Dream, a team they should be able to beat without much issue with a healthy Griner. However, if they fall a spot of two between now and the end of the season, things could get very interesting, and not in a good way for Phoenix.
While Taurasi, Angel Robinson and Monique Currie have been able to make up the bulk of the scoring deficit, no one has stepped up to fill the defensive void left by Griner, which admittedly is tough for anyone to do. What Griner brings to the game are unique and incredibly tough to replace when she’s sidelined with an injury.
Yes, the Phoenix Mercury will be in the playoffs, of that there is no doubt. But how long they will remain there is another question that currently has no answer.
If nothing else, it should make the last few weeks of the season a hell of a lot of fun if you’re a fan of Phoenix.