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Mercury shorthanded for Game 5 with Kia Nurse's torn ACL, Diana Taurasi waiting for baby's birth

Yahoo Sports US logo Yahoo Sports US 10/8/2021 Cassandra Negley

Phoenix Mercury guard Kia Nurse suffered a torn ACL in the first minute of a Game 4 semifinals loss at home, the team announced on Friday. 

The No. 5-seeded Mercury already ruled Nurse out for Game 5, which is Friday night against the No. 2 Las Vegas Aces in Vegas (9 p.m. ET on ESPN2). The team will be without Nurse for the WNBA Finals if they are to advance in the best-of-five series. 

It puts the Mercury and head coach Sandy Brondello into a shorthanded bind heading into the elimination game. Sophie Cunningham, the star of the first round for Phoenix, also remains questionable on the injury report and has not played since Game 1 of the semifinal series. 

Diana Taurasi awaits birth of second child

And Diana Taurasi, who came into the playoffs with an ankle injury, is waiting on the birth of her second child. Her wife, former Mercury star and assistant coach Penny Taylor, was due to give birth Wednesday. Taurasi said earlier this week they're playing it "day-by-day, hour-by-hour." 

"Any minute now, I'm on call," Taurasi said when the series returned to Phoenix at 1-1, via "If it lands on a gameday, it will be a decision Penny and I will have to make. I still haven't even thought about that." 

The Mercury already play with a 11-player roster, one fewer than the allowed maximum because of the salary cap. 

Kia Nurse's season ends with ACL injury

Nurse averaged 9.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists in the regular season over 26.1 minutes per game as a starter. The 25-year-old has been around that same production in the six-game playoff run and shown up in clutch moments. She's a restricted free agent this offseason. 

The injury happened in the first minute of action on Wednesday night when she went in for a layup. Aces forward A'ja Wilson came in and blocked the shot, falling on Nurse as she came down. Nurse was already in pain before falling to the ground and teammates immediately called for attention to her right knee. 

Cunningham suffered a Grade 1 left calf strain. Brondello said she's making good progress, but she doesn't want to push it to a tear. 

Mercury-Aces meet for Game 5 

The Mercury blew out the Aces with their high-powered offense clicking on all cylinders in Game 2 and Game 3. But when given the chance to close it out, nothing seemed to be working and the Aces evened the series. 

Phoenix largely relies on its Big 3 of Taurasi, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Brittney Griner, but needs action and support from the rest of its roster to go up against an Aces squad that can get scoring anywhere from 1 to 11. 

The winner will turn around and play again on Sunday afternoon in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals. The No. 6-seeded Chicago Sky booked their spot on Wednesday night. The Sky will travel to either Phoenix or Las Vegas to open the best-of-five series. 


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