The depleted Phoenix Mercury were dealt a few more blows Wednesday night as they started their playoff run.
The eighth-seeded Mercury dropped the opening game of their first-round series against the top-seeded Las Vegas Aces 79-63. Another loss came in the third quarter, as guard Shey Peddy had to be carried off the court by teammates after going down with a non-contact injury.
Peddy’s teammates Kia Nurse and Diamond DeShields looked visibly shaken by the injury, and reactions from players and coaches on both teams showed concern.
The Mercury's Shey Peddy was carried off the court after a non-contact injury on this play. pic.twitter.com/7vorxsHDbl— ESPN (@espn) August 18, 2022
The Mercury's Shey Peddy was carried off the court after a non-contact injury on this play. pic.twitter.com/7vorxsHDbl
“It looked like something similar that happened to me,” said Aces guard Kelsey Plum, who missed the 2020 WNBA season with an Achilles injury. “Kind of like you plant your foot and you just drop. My prayers go out to her, and I hope it’s not as serious and everything’s OK. At the end of the day, this is bigger than basketball, and you want to see everyone healthy. I just felt my heart drop.”
Peddy did not return to the game after the injury. As of Thursday morning, no update had been provided on Peddy’s condition.
But if it Peddy is unable to return for Phoenix in this series, her injury marks yet another blow to a team that already has been through the wringer this season.
Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia since February. Diana Taurasi has missed the past six games with a quad injury with no timetable for her return. Skylar Diggins-Smith has been absent from the team since Aug. 7 for personal reasons and is not expected to return for the playoffs.
In all, it’s been a tumultuous season for first-year head coach Vanessa Nygaard and the Mercury.
“I don’t know that anybody in this league has been dealt a tougher hand than Vanessa Nygaard,” said Becky Hammon, who is in her first year as head coach for the Aces, after Wednesday’s game. “That completely sucks for them. That is not a fun moment for either side…Hopefully, it’s not what we think.”
Peddy had eight points and five assists before going down with her injury, and she has been a key piece in a stuttering Mercury offense.
“Shey has been such a force for us this year,” Nygaard said. “So all the different things we’ve had challenge us this year, add another one. But we’ll be ready for Saturday.”
A bright spot in Wednesday’s loss was the team’s fight. Even after Peddy went down with her injury, the Mercury managed to pull within one point of the lead in the fourth quarter before the Aces went on a run to close out their win. Diamond DeShields had 18 points for Phoenix, while Sophie Cunningham and Megan Gustafson each had 12 points apiece.
But a fourth-quarter surge by Aces guard Chelsea Gray — which included a run off seven straight points — was too much to overcome. Gray’s 17 points, combined with Kelsey Plum’s 22 points, helped the Aces to a 1-0 lead in the series.
The Aces and Mercury now have two days off before playing again in Las Vegas at 9 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2.