Phoenix Mercury will play the first of consecutive games against Chicago Sky Sky on Tuesday

Candace Parker’s move to Chicago Sky was arguably the largest free agent move in the WNBA, entering its 25th season.

Perhaps it will still turn out to be the most significant long-term. But for now, Parker, the 6-4 striker, has only played one game due to an ankle injury, and the Sky go into the first of two games in three days against the Phoenix Mercury (3-3) with 2-4.

Even without shooting guard Allie Quigley (thigh) and 6: 5 center Stefanie Dolson, The Sky had to play away in the US winning team at the Olympic 3×3 qualification tournament in Austria.

Whether any of those players will return this week against the Mercury – Tuesday in Chicago and Thursday in Phoenix – is uncertain. But the Sky clearly have a limit without their full roster and the kind of depth that helped them to a 7-1 record (including a 2019 playoff game) against the Mercury since late June 2018.

Striker Candace Parker, left, is now with Chicago Sky but has only played one game this season due to an ankle injury.  The Phoenix Mercury faces the sky on Tuesday and Thursday.

“In the end you have to focus on what you want,” said Mercury coach Sandy Brondello on Monday. “I think Candace is about to come back, Quigley, I don’t know. We haven’t heard anything yet. We just have to set up a game plan and be ready to guard everyone. “

Sky skipped the Stephanie Watts guard on Sunday after losing 82:79 (the fourth in a row) to Los Angeles, so there’s reason to believe help is on the way.

“At the end of the day, it’s basketball,” said Mercury center Brittney Griner. “There are general things to do, no matter who is on the other team. Stop the ball, don’t foul. That makes it difficult for the team to get into the rhythm, but for the other team to defended i do i don’t think it really concerns us.

“That’s when the teams get mixed up, she doesn’t play so we can relax, then they lose the game. It’s still the same mindset no matter what.”

The Mercury are also understaffed without the guards Diana Taurasi (sternum) and Bria Hartley (knee). But they beat Dallas 89-85 on Saturday to end a two-game losing streak, going into June with mini-series against three teams (Chicago, Dallas two games and Los Angeles three). Their only one-off game is against New York (June 13th), as the June final against Minnesota will be followed by another game against the Lynx on July 2nd.

From consecutive 27-point games, Griner averages 17.8 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.7 blocks (with teammate Brianna Turner for first in the WNBA). Her rebound high per game is 8.1 in 2015, so her improvement in that category alone will bolster her MVP credentials early in the season.

“She’s so big, but she’s actually playing with her and when you see how much space she’s taking up in the square, you really can’t stop her,” said guard Shey Peddy. “When she dipped (against Dallas) I could have run on the court and got a game delay. I couldn’t believe it. I want her to dunk every time and I even talk about wanting to throw you in an alley backboard . I want to be part of it. That was a great experience.

“It’s kind of dangerous for everyone else. BG feels bouncy and is playing the best she’s played in a while. If she’s feeling how she’s feeling now, watch out. It’ll be hard to stop her.”


Phoenix Mercury at Chicago Sky, 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wintrust Arena, Chicago, ESPN2 – The Mercury (3-3) will play back-to-back games against the Sky (2-4) on Tuesday and Thursday (in Phoenix). Chicago has a four-game losing streak while without F Candace Parker (ankle) and G. Allie Quigley (ankle muscle). Sky co-trainer Olaf Lange is the husband of Mercury trainer Sandy Brondello. The teams split in 2020, with Mercury winning 96-86 and Sky 89-71.

More:Brittney Griner with 13th dunk, 27 points in the Mercury win over Dallas

More:US Olympic trainer Dawn Staley “not nervous” about Diana Taurasi’s injury

Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-8053. Follow him on Twitter @jeffmetcalfe.

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