Brittney Griner factored huge into the Mercury’s 91-86 overtime win on Wednesday night, scoring seven of Phoenix’s final 12 points in overtime. Teammate Diana Taurasi did not mince words when it came to the center’s impact on the team as they leveled their series with Chicago 1-1.
“It’s huge,” Taurasi said after the game. “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 seemed to be the only one to get things going early, scoring the first 10 points for the Mercury — including the first dunk in Finals history. She would finish with 29 points and nine assists.
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“Obviously, she’s a dominant player,” head coach Sandy 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.”
The rest of the Mercury’s Big Three — Taurasi and Skyler Diggins-Smith — were also a big factor in the win, combining for 27 of Phoenix’s 34 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Taurasi finished with 20 points while Diggins-Smith had a dominant game herself, contributing 13 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds for the near triple-double.
The two teams will now travel to Chicago for Games 3 and 4 of the series.