Both single-elimination playoff games on Sunday (ET) witnessed upsets as the Phoenix Mercury and the Chicago Sky stunned the higher seeds to advance to the Conference Semifinals of the 2021 WNBA playoffs.
Here's how the 2021 playoff bracket stands after the most recent results:
The semi-finals matchups are LOCKED IN 🔥- WNBA (@WNBA) September 26, 2021
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Mercury shock shorthanded Storm
The fifth-seeded Phoenix team were led by their starters, as the first five scored 81 of their team's total of 85. Center Brittney Griner was the leading contributor with 23 points, 16 rebounds (playoff career-high), four assists and two blocks while her frontcourt partner Brianna Turner also stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and three blocks.
However, in crunch time, two-time former WNBA Finals MVP and franchise superstar Diana Taurasi came up big. She scored six of the team's 12 points in overtime, almost single-handedly outscoring the Storm, who scored seven in the extra session.
DIANA DOING GOAT THINGS IN OT! pic.twitter.com/I8sLe0LYOX- Phoenix Mercury - X (@PhoenixMercury) September 26, 2021
Battling a left ankle injury which kept her out of action since Sep. 7, she finished the game with 14 points and five assists, in what could have been her final matchup with longtime friend and competitor from the Seattle Storm in Sue Bird.
What a moment between @S10Bird and Diana Taurasi #respect 💐 pic.twitter.com/0c8l3c5fXV- WNBA (@WNBA) September 26, 2021
Bird, the 18-year WNBA veteran, finished with 16 points and five assists for the Storm, who suited up in this one without reigning WNBA Finals MVP Breanna Stewart due to a left foot injury.
Despite her absence, the reigning champions fought tooth-and-nail including fighting back a 12-point second-quarter deficit. They forced overtime in a game, that was so competitive in the second half that neither ever led by more than six points.
In the final seconds of regulation, the Storm had a couple of chances to take a 75-73 lead and then play some defence to seal the win. However, both Jewel Loyd and Ezi Magbegor - off the offensive rebound - missed their attempts.
The loss means for the second time in three years, the Storm are eliminated in a single-elimination playoff game as the reigning champions. On the other hand, the Mercury advance to the WNBA Semifinals to face the Las Vegas Aces on Tuesday (ET).
Sky stun Lynx
In the second of the two games, the Sky and Lynx continued over the competitiveness from the Storm and Mercury matchup before Chicago began opening the game up in the second half.
With all but one lead change coming in the first half, the Sky outscored the third-seeded Minnesota franchise 40-33 over the middle two periods before putting the nail in the coffin by outplaying them 27-20 in the final period.
It was a balanced attack for the Sky with five double-digit scorers, none of which included former WNBA Finals MVP Candace Parker (eight points, four rebounds, three assists).
Point guard Courtney Vandersloot (19 points, five rebounds, five assists, three steals) and forward Kahleah Cooper (16 points, 10 rebounds, four assists) were the most notable contributors for the Chicago franchise, who reach the WNBA Semifinals for the first time since 2016.
For the Lynx, recently announced Defensive Player of the Year Slyiva Fox fouled out after 32 minutes of action with 17 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks, while teammate Aerial Powers was the game's leading scorer with 24 points.
The Sky will now face the top-seeded Connecticut Sun in the WNBA Semifinals on Tuesday ET.
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