The Phoenix Mercury look to maintain their single-elimination win streak without the star.
Diana Taurasi didn’t play in the final two games of the regular season — both of which the Phoenix Mercury lost — and it’s likely that she won’t be back to open the playoffs according to Mercury head coach Sandy Brondello. The Mercury hope she will be available against the Los Angeles Sparks if the team advances.
Taurasi is listed as doubtful on the Mercury’s injury report, but Arizona Republic reporter Jeff Metcalfe reported that she didn’t take part in practice on Tuesday.
After practice, Brondello was asked about Taurasi’s likely availability.
“At this stage, I don’t envision Diana playing,” Brondello was quoted by the Athletic’s Alexis Mansanarez. “We can’t really force her when she’s not ready, and we know that she’s not 100% ready.”
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Taurasi’s on-again, off-again presence on the court, as well as her numbers when she’s there, back up the coach’s assessment.
The guard returned from back surgery on July 12 against the Connecticut Sun. It was a short-lived venture back onto the court, as she was immediately shelved again.
Taurasi attempted the comeback again in August, and it lasted for just five games. She sat out the Mercury’s final weekend with a hamstring injury.
During her six games this season, it’s been clear that there were lingering issues. While her assists and rebounds have stayed consistent with her career averages, she has struggled shooting from the floor.
A career 43.3 percent shooter, Taurasi has shot just 10.3 percent in her limited action. From distance, her 36.7 percent three-point shooting prowess has plunged to just 4.2 percent. As a result, she has averaged just 4.3 points per game.
The Mercury will attempt to continue their winning ways in the single-elimination opening rounds without Taurasi. They are as healthy as they’ve been through most of the season with only Taurasi and rookie Alanna Smith sitting out. They will face off against the Chicago Sky, who went 3-0 against Phoenix this season.
“It doesn’t matter,” Brondello said about the regular-season record Sunday after the Mercury’s loss to the Las Vegas Aces. “Chicago’s playing really well. They’re playing so well. They’ve got so many scorers, they’ve got physical post players, they rebound well, they’re athletic, they’ve got one of the best point guards in the league just controlling everything. In a one-game knockout situation, as long as we can limit what they want to do and make them feel uncomfortable, anything is possible. We didn’t win at Connecticut last year, and we went in there and won. We’ve been in these situations before, so we’re not looking at it like ‘Oh we haven’t won,’ because you just go and play. We’re going to believe. We know we can do this. It’s not easy. No game is easy. Anyone can beat anyone in this league, so we just have to make sure that it’s our night.”
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