Fifth-seeded Mercury host No. 8 Liberty in one-and-done

9/22/2021 3:54:37 PM EST

Neither the Phoenix Mercury nor the New York Liberty finished the regular season strong, but Thursday night one will advance to the second round of the WNBA playoffs.

Neither team seemed concerned about their late-season form heading into their single-elimination playoff game in Phoenix.

The Mercury (19-13), the No. 5 seed, had won 10 straight games before losing their final three -- to playoff teams Connecticut, Las Vegas and Seattle -- while veteran Diana Taurasi was sidelined by an ankle injury. She is expected back Thursday.

"I don't think we've been playing bad," coach Sandy Brondello said. "We did two really big, long road trips and that tired us out. ... We know that we can beat anyone."

Guard Bria Hartley, who scored 10 points in 19 minutes in place of Taurasi in a one-point home loss Sunday to Las Vegas, returned from an ACL tear on Sept. 4.

"I've been feeling really good all week and I was just happy I had an opportunity to show (Brondello) my progress and my confidence that you can see out there," Hartley said. "I really think that can help this team."

The eighth-seeded Liberty (12-20), making strides from a 2-20 record last season, were idle Sunday when Washington and Los Angeles lost, sending New York into the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

The Liberty, who set a WNBA record with 321 made 3-pointers this season, were in sixth place starting the second half of the season but lost eight straight before defeating Washington 91-80 on Friday for just their second victory since the Olympic break.

That victory was preceded by a 98-69 thrashing at the hands of Connecticut, which coach Walt Hopkins called "an anomaly," adding that the bounce-back win demonstrated "the team we are right now."

"I think we're starting to come together," guard Sabrina Ionescu said. "We're proud of what we've accomplished, but it's only the beginning. I'm really excited to see what the future holds for this team."

Phoenix won two of the three meetings with New York during the season. The Liberty won in Phoenix, 85-83, on June 13. The Mercury won successive August games in New York, winning by 27 and 16 points.

A victory would send Phoenix into the second round at fourth-seeded Seattle, while New York is hoping to earn a game at third-seeded Minnesota.

--Field Level Media

NFL

Mon, 25 Oct 2021 00:04:08 EST NFL roundup: Joe Burrow, Bengals end Ravens’ 5-game winning streak
Mon, 25 Oct 2021 00:00:42 EST Colts’ defense forces four turnovers in rain-soaked win over 49ers
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 20:16:34 EST 49ers LT Trent Williams sitting out against Colts
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 19:15:20 EST Reports: Sam Darnold still Panthers' starter; Deshaun Watson talk revs up
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 20:29:25 EST Cardinals maul Texans to improve to 7-0
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 18:48:26 EST Aaron Wilson: Chiefs buyers, Dolphins sellers ahead of Nov. 2 deadline
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 19:59:55 EST Matthew Stafford outduels Jared Goff, Rams beat tricky Lions
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 19:26:25 EST Derek Carr tops 300 yards passing again as Raiders beat Eagles
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 17:40:11 EST Bucs QB Tom Brady first to throw 600 touchdown passes
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 17:09:31 EST Patrick Mahomes clears concussion protocol after knee to head

MLB

Sun, 24 Oct 2021 21:28:07 EST Reports: Cardinals promote bench coach Oliver Marmol to manager
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 20:38:48 EST Astros open as World Series favorites over Braves
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 14:18:54 EST Braves RHP Charlie Morton to start Game 1 vs. Astros
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 01:43:41 EST Braves advance to World Series with 4-2 win over Dodgers
Sat, 23 Oct 2021 17:57:21 EST Dodgers favored in another elimination game against Braves
Sat, 23 Oct 2021 20:03:55 EST Dodgers RHP Walker Buehler to start Game 6 vs. Braves
Fri, 22 Oct 2021 23:30:47 EST Reports: Dodgers' Max Scherzer won't start NLCS Game 6
Sat, 23 Oct 2021 01:09:21 EST Yordan Alvarez, Astros overpower Red Sox, seal World Series bid
Fri, 22 Oct 2021 16:39:43 EST LHP David Price added to Dodgers' NLCS roster
Sat, 23 Oct 2021 11:18:45 EST Braves try to avoid repeat against hard-to-eliminate Dodgers

NBA

Mon, 25 Oct 2021 00:56:36 EST NBA roundup: Carmelo Anthony leads Lakers over Grizzlies
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 23:20:54 EST Nets to see familiar face as Spencer Dinwiddie, Wizards come to town
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 23:11:57 EST On historic 3-0 start, LaMelo Ball and Hornets primed for Celtics
Mon, 25 Oct 2021 00:30:26 EST Lakers get by Grizzlies to avoid 0-3 start
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 23:48:32 EST Warriors pull away from Kings down the stretch
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 21:42:43 EST Seth Curry's sharpshooting powers 76ers past Thunder
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 21:48:56 EST Celtics nab first win of season over Rockets
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 22:02:24 EST Terrence Ross' 4th-quarter burst rescues Magic vs. Knicks
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 18:21:36 EST Winless Clippers out to tame Trail Blazers
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 18:50:01 EST Next test for Cavs' Evan Mobley: Nuggets, MVP Nikola Jokic

NHL

Mon, 25 Oct 2021 01:17:22 EST NHL roundup: Islanders' Ilya Sorokin posts second straight shutout
Mon, 25 Oct 2021 01:00:57 EST Ilya Sorokin posts second straight shutout as Islanders blank Knights
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 21:59:02 EST Lucas Raymond, 19, records hat trick as Red Wings roll
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 21:16:58 EST Roman Josi's four-point night leads Predators over Wild
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 17:38:03 EST Stars living on the edge, hope to take down Blue Jackets
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 16:57:08 EST Capitals try to keep point streak going on trip to Senators
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 16:45:41 EST Kings focused on special teams entering rematch with Blues
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 15:55:47 EST Winless Coyotes clash with unbeaten Panthers
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 15:19:32 EST After perfect road trip, Rangers face Flames at home
Sun, 24 Oct 2021 21:13:50 EST Quick-strike Bruins hang on, snap Sharks' perfect start