The Seattle Storm are in a tight battle for a high seed in the WNBA playoffs.
The Phoenix Mercury are in a tight battle to secure one of the final postseason spots.
Much will be at stake when the Storm visit the Mercury on Friday night.
Seattle (17-9) dropped into a third-place tie with Connecticut, three games behind first-place Chicago, after losing to the host Sky 78-74 on Wednesday.
“Throughout the game,” Storm coach Noelle Quinn said, “there were great signs, but in critical moments we have to lock in a little bit more.”
Seattle saw its four-game winning streak end after it gave up 11 offensive rebounds and was beaten 38-28 on the boards.
“That’s on me,” said Breanna Stewart, who scored a game-high 24 points but added just three rebounds. “I didn’t basically rebound at all.”
The Sky’s rebounding advantage was a key to their ability to overcome an early 10-point deficit and to hold off Seattle.
“Controlling the boards is definitely important,” said Storm center Tina Charles (11 points, six rebounds), “and that’s what they were doing and how they got back into the game.”
The Mercury haven’t played since an 85-75 loss to visiting Atlanta on Sunday. That left Phoenix (11-16) one game out of the eighth and final playoff spot.
The score was tied with a little more than five minutes remaining, but the Dream finished the game on a 12-2 run.
“A lot of times it was three of us down there trying to get the ball and they wanted it more than we did and that’s why we got blown out,” Phoenix guard Shey Peddy said.
Phoenix’s bench was hampered by the absence of guard Diamond DeShields, who was sidelined by a hip injury.
“It was tough,” Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard said of DeShields’ absence. “She comes in and gives you a lift defensively with intensity but also gets us out in transition.”
–Field Level Media