The Phoenix Mercury will be shorthanded in a win-or-go-home Game 5 against the Las Vegas Aces on Friday in the WNBA semifinals.
The team announced Thursday that starting guard Kia Nurse is out due to a right knee injury she sustained in the first few possessions of Game 4 on Wednesday. Nurse did not return.
There’s also guard Sophie Cunningham. She did not play in Game 4 and is questionable again because of a left calf strain.
Without Nurse and Cunningham, the Mercury were missing two of their toughest defenders, and it showed. Aces guards Chelsea Gray (22 points), Kelsey Plum (20) and Riquna Williams (17) combined for 59 points in the Aces’ Game 4 win that tied the series at 2-2.
Head coach Sandy Brondello had to go to different names in her rotation, including forward Megan Walker, who had only played in garbage time for any other playoff minutes before clocking 14 on Thursday. Ditto for guard Bria Hartley playing 21 minutes after a total of 14 in Phoenix’s other five playoff games.
The winner of Game 5 between the Mercury and the Aces will take on the Chicago Sky in the WNBA Finals. Friday’s game tips off at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.