PHOENIX — Despite tying her playoff career high with 29 points and throwing down the first dunk in WNBA Finals history, Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner‘s most important play in Wednesday’s Game 2 win over the Chicago Sky came on defense late in overtime.
She blocked a layup by Chicago’s Kahleah Copper with 1:34 left and the score tied at 86. That led to a 3-pointer by Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi to put the Mercury ahead for good in their 91-86 win that evened the series at 1-1 as it heads to Chicago for Game 3.
Whenever the Mercury needed a play down the stretch, Griner made it happen.
She scored seven of Phoenix’s final 12 points in regulation, and even though she didn’t score in overtime, she had three rebounds and that crucial block.
“It’s huge,” Taurasi said. “We know who our bread and butter is. BG is just playing at a different level right now, and there’s really nothing anyone can do. We knew coming into this game it was going to be a big focus: Got to get BG down low early and often.
“She sustained us for most of the game when offensively we didn’t really have a rhythm, and every time I looked up, she was making big basket after big basket when we weren’t playing well. That’s just what BG does, though. I think we take for granted sometimes how amazing she is.”
Griner was on from the jump — quite literally.
She scored the Mercury’s first 10 points, which included the first dunk in Finals history with 5:35 left in the first quarter. It was Griner’s 24th career dunk and second in the postseason. Mercury coach Sandy Brondello didn’t want Griner to be fed on every play; however, she would have liked Griner to be involved more at certain stages of the game, resetting in the post rather than setting screens.
Good things happened when Griner touched the ball Wednesday, like the Mercury going 17-of-29 on field goals, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“Obviously, she’s a dominant player,” Brondello said. “We don’t want to go [to her] all the time because we have to involve everyone else, but she has to be — she’s a playmaker, as well, not just a scorer.”
Griner got help from the rest of the Mercury’s Big Three — Taurasi and Skyler Diggins-Smith — as they combined for 27 of Phoenix’s 34 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Taurasi finished with 20 points despite entering the fourth quarter with just six. She started overtime with a four-point play and finished the extra time with eight — outscoring Chicago’s seven total points by herself.
“That’s the GOAT right there,” Griner said. “We know what Dee can bring, doesn’t matter how she starts the game or whatever. You know when the time is going down, when it’s crunch time, we have all the faith in the world that Dee is going to make those shots and make big plays for us. She does it year in, year out.”
Together, Griner and Taurasi scored 23 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to match the Sky’s total as a team during that stretch.
Diggins-Smith added 13 points to go…
Read More: Brittney Griner leads Phoenix Mercury to OT win over Chicago Sky in Game 2 of 2021-10-14 06:46:49