Well-rested Aces face Mercury in WNBA semifinal opener

9/27/2021 9:30:06 PM EST

The last time the Las Vegas Aces played, they defeated the host Phoenix Mercury 84-83 in the regular-season finale on Sept. 19.

They earned the WNBA's No. 2 playoff seed and a double bye that has them hosting the No. 5 Mercury in the opener of a best-of-five semifinal series Tuesday night.

"It was a great season. Proud of everyone," Aces guard Kelsey Plum said. "But we're putting that behind us. We're focusing on this next series."

Las Vegas will host Game 2 on Thursday before the series moves to Phoenix on Sunday.

"We haven't won anything yet," Aces coach Bill Laimbeer said. "We know where we're at. We know what's in front of us."

This season, Aces became the first WNBA team to have seven players average double figures in scoring.

"A lot of people got a lot of opportunity this year to show who they are," Laimbeer said. "Everybody got to share the wealth. Now it's about, 'Let's go make plays and win basketball games.'"

The Mercury edged visiting eighth-seeded New York 83-82 in a first-round elimination game, then knocked out defending WNBA champion and host Seattle 85-80 in overtime in a second-round elimination game Sunday.

Phoenix had its own balanced scoring against fourth-seeded Seattle as all five starters scored in double figures. Brittney Griner put up 23 points, Skylar Diggins-Smith had 20 and Brianna Turner and Kia Nurse had 12 each.

Diana Taurasi returned from a five-game absence caused by an ankle injury and scored six of her 14 points in overtime.

"Against New York, I was just not ready to play," Taurasi said. "The decision was if I can help in any capacity, I was going to try to play (against Seattle)."

She added four rebounds and five assists in 33 minutes.

"To have her leadership out there, her passing ability, calmness, it's a big thing for us," Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said. "Her being out there makes everyone else calm down a little bit."

--Field Level Media

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