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Mercury looking to continue surge vs. Dream

Sportsnaut
Oct 10, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi (3) reacts against the Chicago Sky during the first half of game one of the 2021 WNBA Finals at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Mercury look to bolster their playoff positioning at the expense of the Atlanta Dream on Sunday when the teams meet in Phoenix.

The Mercury (11-15) earned their fifth win in their last eight outings with an 80-75 victory over the Washington Mystics on Thursday. Phoenix resides in seventh place in the standings, mere percentage points ahead of Atlanta (10-14) and Los Angeles (10-14).

Diana Taurasi sank five 3-pointers to highlight her 29-point performance for the Mercury, who overcame a 15-point deficit after the first quarter.

“I think as you get in this league, these games are so long, and you might be down, whatever, 12, 13 points, but it’s a long game,” Taurasi said, per the Arizona Republic. “I don’t say much, but I always say it’s a long game. It’s a long game. There’s a lot of possessions and a lot of things that can happen.”

Taurasi avenged a disastrous two-point performance in the Mercury’s 81-54 setback against Atlanta on May 29 by scoring 23 in a 90-88 victory over the Dream on June 10.

Rhyne Howard scored 25 points in Atlanta’s more recent meeting against Phoenix. The All-Star rookie guard is chipping in a team-best 14.7 points per game this season.

“She’s playing the same exact way she normally plays,” Dream coach Tanisha Wright told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Howard earlier this year. “She is never hurried and knows where she’s able to get shots. The offense we run opens up the floor a bit for her.”

Howard, however, did not play in the Dream’s 93-68 setback to the Connecticut Sun on Friday due to a right shoulder injury. Nia Coffey also sat out because of a right knee injury for Atlanta, which has lost three in a row and 10 of its last 13 games.

Tiffany Hayes contributed 18 points on Friday and rookie Naz Hillmon notched her first career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.

–Field Level Media