FSM Essential Recap: Aces vs Mercury – Round 1-  Game 1

Franchise Sports Media

Las Vegas Aces (1-0)  |  Phoenix Mercury (0-1)


In the WNBA’s new playoff format, the No. 1 seed Las Vegas Aces hosted the Phoenix Mercury in the opening round of the 2022 playoffs on Wednesday evening. In an attempt to avenge last postseason’s exit at the hands of the Mercury, the Aces gifted Phoenix a 79-63 Game 1 loss.




Aces vs Mercury
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

Las Vegas and Phoenix battling out in a packed Michelob ULTRA Arena inside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino — we’ve heard this before, right?

Right. Less than a year ago, these two teams shared the floor in the City of Sin with playoff basketball in the atmosphere.

However, things were different this time around. Diana Taurasi wasn’t shooting daggers into the hearts of the Vegas fan base, Skylar Diggins-Smith wasn’t dicing up the Aces‘ defense with her passing, and Brittney Griner wasn’t destroying Vegas’ interior defense to the tune of nearly 30 points. That’s because none of those three took the court — Diggins-Smith missed the game for personal reasons, Taurasi is out with a quad injury, and Griner has been wrongfully detained in Russia since February. So, that left the Aces as the only superstar team on the court with superstar talent in the 2022 rematch.

But an untrained WNBA eye likely wouldn’t have known which team possessed the star talent based on the outcome of the first half of Game 1. Diamond DeShields was the star of the opening 20 minutes. She led all scorers with 13 points and outplayed all four Aces — Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young, Chelsea Gray, and MVP-hopeful A’ja Wilson, who was limited to just six points on 1-8 shooting. DeShields‘ stellar play kept the Mercury within arms reach and only down five heading into the break.

From there, a bizarre game got even weirder.


Aces vs Mercury
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

In the third quarter alone, Chelsea Gray came up gimpy, left, and later returned. Shey Peddy went down without contact and was carried off the floor with the help of teammates. Meanwhile, DeShields was limited to two points in the frame and Gray and Wilson without any. It all amounted to a nine to nine third quarter that almost completely took the life out of the building. And for a moment, it looked like the undermanned Mercury might do the unthinkable.

But in a flash, something happened that would change the night.

In a four-point game with less than seven minutes of action, Chelsea Gray crashed violently to the floor after being met in the air by Phoenix’s Megan Gustafson, who was handed a flagrant foul. Gray took offense to the hard foul and proceeded to real off the Aces‘ next seven points, bringing life back into both her teammates and the home crowd. The lead went from four to 11 in a matter of minutes, which ended up being all she wrote for the MercuryVegas wound down the clock and escaped Game 1 with a 79-63 win.



Chelsea Gray (Aces): 17 PTS, 4 REBS, 4 ASTS, 1 STL, 3/5 3PT

Kelsey Plum (Aces): 22 PTS, 5 REBS, 4 ASTS, 1 STL, 2/7 3PT

Jackie Young (Aces): 16 PTS, 5 REBS, 2 ASTS, 2 STLS, 2/4 3PT

Diamond DeShields (Mercury): 18 PTS, 8 REBS, 2 ASTS, 1/2 3PT

Sophie Cunningham (Mercury): 12 PTS, 4 REBS, 1 STL, 2/4 3PT


Las Vegas will look to close the series out on Saturday, August 20th, at Michelob ULTRA Arena when it faces the Mercury in Game 2 of the first round. Tune into ESPN 2 at 6 p.m. PST to follow the action live, and be sure to check back with us at Franchise Sports Media for a recap.

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-Cole Huff– Franchise Sports Media

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