The Phoenix Mercury’s 101-83 win over the Dallas Wings on Tuesday night in the first round of the WNBA playoffs featured the first-ever postseason matchup between Brittney Griner and Liz Cambage, two of the league’s most dominant players.
Cambage, an MVP candidate, scored 22 points and collected 12 rebounds. Griner scored 17 points, shooting an efficient 8-of-12 from the field.
But the Mercury separated from the Wings in the third quarter by drawing Cambage out of the paint on defense, forcing her to defend a pick and roll between Griner and Diana Taurasi.
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“When (Diana) and I run the pick and roll, teams really have to pick one of us to defend,” Griner said. “You can’t be at the point of the screen and get to me while I’m rolling.”
For years, Griner has imposed her 6-9 frame on the best centers in the WNBA. But this season, when the 6-8 Cambage made her return to the WNBA after a four-year hiatus, Griner was forced to go up against a player whose size matched her own.
“I think the first time we played against each other, Brittney shot it straight into my arms. Then I went down and shot it straight into hers,” Cambage said. “It took time to adjust. There aren’t other players who are as big as us and can move like us, but I really enjoy the challenge of playing against her.”
The two centers are among the WNBA’s premier talents. Cambage is the league’s leading scorer. Griner is the league’s best shot blocker. Both are still only 27 years old, in the prime of their careers.
But before this one game can evolve into a legendary playoff fixture, Cambage, who has played eight of her 11 professional seasons internationally, still has to decide whether she will return to Dallas and the WNBA next season.
Mercury at Connecticut Sun
What: Second-round elimination game.
When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.