After building a record 22-point halftime lead, the Phoenix Mercury were able to coast in the second half to complete a 83-62 rout of the Chicago Sky in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, which included a number of additional records by the end of the game.
Candice Dupree led all scorers with 26 points, including a WNBA playoff and Finals record 10 straight made baskets to open the game. Brittney Griner finished with a WNBA Finals record eight blocks to go with 12 points and 7 rebounding. Diana Taurasi finished with a WNBA Finals record-tying 11 assists to go with 19 points.
Nevertheless, Taurasi mentioned in her post game interview that there's a laundry list of things for the Mercury to clean up for Game 2 and if you're looking for positives for Chicago to build on, beating the Mercury 42-41 in the second half is probably a good place to start.
Sky center Sylvia Fowles scored 15 of her team-high 19 points in the second half by getting deep position in the paint while Griner picked up her fourth foul at the end of the third quarter. Allie Quigley woke up in the second half to score all 13 of her points, although she finished just 1-for-7 from the 3-point line.
As a team, Chicago got to the free throw line for 13 attempts and made every one of them. The Mercury had 9 turnovers that resulted in 10 Sky points. The Sky finished with 13 offensive rebounds for 12 second chance points. And Elena Delle Donne didn't play at all in the second half after playing just 10 minutes in the first half due to ongoing back problems that don't appear to be going away any time soon.
So there's reason to remain optimistic about the Sky making the rest of this series competitive - even though the entire fourth quarter was essentially garbage time - if Delle Donne ever makes an impact and they can get Fowles and Quigley in a rhythm for an inside-outside game.
Yet ultimately, this Mercury team sent a message that they're probably just too good to expect the Sky to win more than a game in this series.
The Mercury's defense smothered the Sky into just 23.1% shooting from the field through three quarters, along with 13 turnovers. Despite Fowles' impressive second half play, Griner dominated the center matchup. And the Sky simply don't look like they can possibly compete with the Mercury without Delle Donne.
The Mercury essentially just confirmed everyone's belief that the Western Conference Finals would determine the league's champion as they dominated the Sky from start-to-finish. A good number of basketball fans will probably take Game 1 as a cue to tune out the rest of the series.
Yet in their dominance might also lie the reason to keep watching: we're witnessing the Mercury make their case as the most dominant team in WNBA history and, even if the outcome is lopsided, they're playing at least a level above even most champions.