The Chicago Sky overcame a tough start in Game 1 as they took the opening game of the Finals 91-77 on Sunday over a fatigued Phoenix Mercury squad that struggled in the back half.
Now, the Mercury look to rebound to even the series at home while the Sky look to take a commanding 2-0 lead.
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Phoenix will get a boost off the bench Wednesday as Sophie Cunningham, who missed the last three games with a calf strain, makes her return to the lineup.
Cunningham has been a reliable source of energy for the Mercury this season and has been a difference-maker in the playoffs. Her 21 points and shooting six-for-seven from three in the first round against New York was critical. The Mercury will need more of that going forward, especially with Canadian Kia Nurse done for the postseason with a torn ACL.
Shooting 50 per cent from three so far in the playoffs, Cunningham gives Phoenix another offensive threat outside the ‘Big Three’ of Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith.
Expect Taurasi to kick it up a notch in Game 2. After six turnovers in Game 1, the 39-year-old was not at her best. However, it’s almost routine at this point to expect a big game from her after a loss. After dropping Game 1 against the Las Vegas Aces, Taurasi roared back with a playoff career-high 37 points.
For the Sky, they had some shaky moments to open Game 1 but calmed considerably and took over in the second half. Kahleah Copper continues to be the catalyst for Chicago, with 21 points and 10 rebounds in Game 1.
Chicago used a balanced attack to earn the victory in Game 1, with six players recording 10-plus points, including Stefanie Dolson coming off the bench with 14 points.
With two days of rest and Cunningham back in the lineup, the Mercury should have more energy in Game 2 but the Sky continue to roll and show no signs of slowing down.