Pushed to the brink of elimination, the Phoenix Mercury’s season hangs in the balance with just nine remaining players.
Their playoff task was going to be hard without stars Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith, but it’s even more challenging now that Shey Peddy has been added to the list of the missing.
The Mercury kept things close in Game 1 of their first-round WNBA playoff series against Las Vegas in the first half, but were dealt a massive blow in the third quarter. Peddy suffered a non-contact injury with 2:03 remaining in the quarter and needed to be carried off the floor. Peddy was ruled out of Game 2 on Friday with a right Achilles tendon rupture and has remained with the team following her injury.
“That’s our third point guard we’ve lost this season. We have some other ones that played with experience that we’ll try to plug in, but Shey is one of our best defensive players. She’s been a true lockdown defender for us, guarding a lot of the toughest matchups and is also really huge for us on the offensive side with her 3s," Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard said.
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Peddy took over seamlessly in an elevated role down the stretch of the regular season when both Taurasi and Diggins-Smith were out. Peddy thrived in the postseason last year and was one of the sparks off the Mercury bench. This postseason was an opportunity for her to lead the offense.
“We will ask more from others and ask people to step up to fill that space as they’ve done all year,” Nygaard said.
Although shorthanded, the Mercury still have talent available with Diamond DeShields, Sophie Cunningham, and Brianna Turner ready to go in the elimination game Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Turner grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds and helped the Mercury’s remaining core to keep a close game into the fourth quarter. DeShields posted a near double-double with 18 points and eight rebounds to lead the Mercury.
The Mercury aren’t new to adversity caused by devastating injuries in the playoffs. Last season, the Mercury had a 2-1 series lead over the Aces in the semifinals, but within the first minute of the game, starter Kia Nurse suffered a torn ACL in Game 4. But back then, the Mercury had several key players, including Brittney Griner, Taurasi and Diggins-Smith. Following the loss without Nurse, the team then rallied back in the following game to take the series and advance to the Finals.
If the Mercury win Game 2 Saturday, there would be a Game 3 on Tuesday at Footprint Center to determine which team moves on.
Resilience has defined the team throughout the season. Saturday perhaps will test the Mercury the most with the season on the line.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Mercury's Shey Peddy ruptures Achilles tendon, is out for season