WNBA Playoff Finals: Series Tied 1–1; Copper, Parker, and Griner Shine

The Sky and Mercury are tied after a thrilling overtime finish in Game 2.

By Alexandra Cadet

The grand finale of the 2021 WNBA Playoffs began with a bang last Sunday, as the No. 6 Sky went up 1–0 against the No 5. Mercury. Despite the Mercury having the edge in the first quarter, the Sky went on a 26–10 run during the second and managed to maintain their lead in the third and fourth. The Mercury’s loss could be partially explained by fatigue—not only did the Sky have an extra two days’ worth of rest, but star player Diana Tarausi had just become a mom for the second time on Saturday—but the Sky nonetheless earned their win, with six of their players managing point tallies in the double digits. 

Though they performed extremely well as a unit, a few of the Sky’s players were on fire last weekend. We praised Kahleah Copper a while back for her fantastic Round One performance against the Wings, but we’d be remiss not to give her plaudits for the second time after Sunday’s match. She absolutely bossed the game, notching 21 points and 10 rebounds. No wonder Sky forward Candace Parker predicted that Copper could be the next superstar despite not being the No. 1 draft pick in 2016.

Kahleah Copper during Game 1 of the Finals.
(Photo courtesy of ESPNW)

Speaking of Parker, she shined as the Sky’s key offensive player and de-facto leader. In her post-match interview, Parker mentioned that the Sky’s players’ willingness to trust each other in crucial games is how they turned their rough 2021 season around, but that trust can only exist with a level-headed and compassionate leader like her. As excellent as Copper usually is, she probably doesn’t drop such a spectacular performance on Sunday without Parker motivating her. 

Furthermore, the fact that the Sky only established a commanding lead in Game 1 once Parker re-entered the game in the second quarter can’t be a coincidence. It’s impossible to tell whether the Sky will be able to clinch the Championship, but if they do, she’ll be a big reason why. 

Despite Parker’s efforts, things went off the rails for the Sky on Wednesday when they were beaten by the Mercury in an exciting overtime finish to Game 2. Wednesday night was essentially the Brittney Griner show; not only did she score 30 points and put in an amazing defensive shift, but she also performed the first dunk in Finals history. Even more importantly, her playmaking skills were crucial to her team establishing a firm lead in overtime. 

Mercury player Skylar Diggins-Smith celebrates during Game 2, while the Sky’s Allie Quigley looks on.
(Photo courtesy of The Guardian)

While the GOAT had a relatively slow first quarter, she eventually got into the rhythm of the game and finished with 20 points. “We know what [Diana Taurasi] can bring, [it] doesn’t matter how she starts the game or whatever,” Brittney Griner said after the game. “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.” 

The Mercury and their fans will hope that Taurasi can keep up her level of undeniable quality during Game 3, which will take place on Friday at 9 PM.

The schedule for the remaining Playoff games is as follows:

  • Finals, Game 3: Friday, Oct. 15, @ 9 PM
  • Finals, Game 4: Sunday, Oct. 17, @ 3 PM
  • Finals, Game 5 (if necessary): Tuesday, Oct. 19, @ 9 PM
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