Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi received a one-game suspension, the WNBA announced Monday.
The suspension comes in the wake of Taurasi’s two technical fouls in last Saturday’s 80-75 loss to the Minnesota Lynx. The nine-time All-Star has now picked up seven technical fouls, which automatically triggered the one-game ban.
The second of the two technical fouls Saturday stirred controversy. After being whistled for a personal foul, Taurasi jogged away in frustration and appeared to trip over her own feet and stumble to the floor. At that point, she was assessed a second technical and sent to the locker room.
“I only saw her fall down, so I can’t even say why,” Mercury head coach Sandy Brondello said after the game, per the Arizona Republic‘s Jeff Metcalfe. “I have to go back and look at the film. It’s unfortunate because Diana was playing great and we may have won that game if we can keep her on the floor.”
Taurasi will miss Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Sky. The Mercury have split their first two meetings with the Sky, winning 96-79 at home on June 8 and losing 97-88 on the road on June 24.
Losing Taurasi—even for one game—is a big blow for Phoenix at this point in the regular season. She’s leading the team in points (20.3) and assists (4.8), and her 4.3 win shares are fourth-highest in the WNBA, according to Basketball Reference.
The Sky are one of the more beatable teams left on the Mercury’s schedule. Chicago is 10th in the WNBA (8-17) and a loser in eight of its last 10 games.
Take Taurasi out of the mix, and what should be a relatively straightforward game for Phoenix becomes more difficult.
One game could make a relatively significant difference in the standings as well; that’s all that separates the fourth-place Mercury from the seventh-place Dallas Wings.
The margins in the WNBA playoff seeding promise to be razor-thin. Taurasi’s suspension may have little impact should Phoenix prevail Wednesday, but it will loom large if the Mercury fall to the Sky.