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2021 WNBA Finals Game 3 Preview: Will DeShields get involved to match Mercury’s explosiveness?

The Phoenix Mercury’s big three put up the numbers it wants to put up in Game 2 with points and rebounds coming from Brittney Griner, points coming from Diana Taurasi and assists coming from Skylar Diggins-Smith. But the Sky looked good in Game 1 and have the chance to close out the series in Chicago.

WNBA Finals - Game One - Chicago Sky v Phoenix Mercury
It’s the Mercury’s flare vs. the Sky’s methodical approach.
Photo by Mike Mattina/Getty Images

The Chicago Sky got off to a good start in the 2021 WNBA Finals, but in Game 2 the explosiveness of the Phoenix Mercury showed itself at the right moments and Phoenix was able to tie the series.

The Mercury are going to be hard to beat when Brittney Griner goes for 29 points and nine rebounds, Diana Taurasi goes for 20 points and Skylar Diggins-Smith goes for 13 points and 12 assists. Chicago should feel a little better though, knowing that Game 2 was still close despite those numbers.

One elephant in the room right now is that the Sky may be a little less explosive on offense than the Mercury, but that could change if they put the ball in Diamond DeShields’ hands. DeShields has taken a back seat to Kahleah Copper this season, but was Chicago’s leading scorer in 2019. While Copper’s chemistry cutting to the basket and receiving passes from Courtney Vandersloot and Candace Parker is top notch right now, DeShields may be able to create for herself better than Copper. If DeShields is given a bigger role on offense in Game 3, can she rise to the occasion?

Vandersloot may not be the explosive scorer that Taurasi is, but she is looking like the Sky’s frontrunner for Finals MVP with an average of 16 points and 12.5 assists through two games. Her and Parker’s orchestrating abilities serve as the main advantage for the Sky in this series. Chicago needs to turn the ball over less and run smart offense in order to win in front of a sold out crowd at Wintrust Arena and take back the series lead.

Game information

No. 5 seed Phoenix Mercury vs. No. 6 seed Chicago Sky

When: Friday, Oct. 15 at 9 p.m. ET

Where: Wintrust Arena in Chicago, IL

How to watch: ESPN2

Key to the matchup: Shot selection. The Sky aren't really a 3-point shooting team. They were sixth in the league in attempts and seventh in percentage. Allie Quigley is their only true 3-point shooter and they’re so good at finding other ways to score that teams are going to give Parker, Copper, DeShields and Azurá Stevens some space to shoot threes. But the Sky need to only take good threes and look to Vandersloot to create first. On the other side, the Mercury need to mix up their shots between Griner, Taurasi and Diggins-Smith and not rely on just one of them.

Mercury injury report: Kia Nurse (out; right knee)

Sky injury report: none