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Sky faces red-hot Mercury as WNBA Finals kick off

Oct 9 (Reuters) – The Chicago Sky takes on the red-hot Mercury in Phoenix to kick off the best-of-five WNBA Finals on Sunday, hoping to maintain their Cinderella story on observe to hoist the trophy for the primary time.

Chicago overcame seven straight losses earlier this 12 months to finish the common season 16-16, earlier than gorgeous the top-seeded Connecticut Sun within the semi-finals, and can want every thing in its arsenal to keep away from repeating historical past after the Mercury swept them within the 2014 Finals.

“Our big focus this postseason … has been about our defense, our rebounding, our ability to move and share the ball,” two-time league MVP Candace Parker instructed reporters.

“I think if we do that – it’ll still be hard – but I like our chances.”

Parker signed together with her hometown workforce this 12 months after 13 seasons with the Los Angeles Sparks, becoming a member of veteran level guard Courtney Vandersloot, who put up the league’s second-ever postseason triple-double final month and All-Star Kahleah Copper, who averaged 18.2 factors per recreation within the playoffs.

But to grab the WNBA crown, the Sky must take down titans together with all-time scoring chief and 10-time All-Star Diana Taurasi, who put away 14 factors within the fourth quarter of the Sky’s 87-84 win Friday over the Las Vegas Aces in Game 5 of the semi-finals.

There can also be the 6’9″ impenetrable force of nature Brittney Griner, the best center in the league, who finished second in MVP votes this year behind Sun forward Jonquel Jones and put up 21 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in the playoffs.

“She’s simply been so unimaginable all 12 months for us,” three-time champion Taurasi said of Griner in a televised interview. “We’ve requested her to do every thing: Play 40 minutes, defend the perfect participant, assist, block pictures, rating, rebound – she’s unimaginable.”

Taurasi already has plenty to celebrate after her wife, retired WNBA player Penny Taylor, gave birth to their second child on Saturday morning.

The team will have to do without Canadian point guard Kia Nurse, who tore her ACL in Game 4 of the Mercury’s semi-final series against the Aces.

The WNBA Finals kick off on Sunday.

Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York

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