The Phoenix Mercury will be without one of their leaders when they take on the New York Liberty in Thursday's single-elimination WNBA playoff game.
Diana Taurasi was ruled out with an ankle injury that kept her out the previous four games as well, per Jeff Metcalfe of AzCentral sports. Taurasi played just 16 games during the regular season as she bounced in and out of the lineup with injury concerns.
Alex Simon of The Next noted the all-time great "tested out the ankle but it didn't respond in the way she wanted" prior to the game.
Phoenix defeated the Liberty in two of the three regular-season matchups between the teams, but Taurasi played in the two wins. She did not suit up in her team's lone loss to New York, and Kia Nurse shot just 3-of-15 from the field in defeat.
When healthy, Taurasi is one of the greatest players in WNBA history. The 2009 MVP and 10-time All-Star averaged 15.2 points, 4.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game this season while shooting 36.5 percent from the field and 33.9 percent from three-point range.
She wasn't as statistically dominant as she was in past years, although the injury concerns certainly contributed to that.
Look for Nurse and Skylar Diggins-Smith to assume even more responsibility in the backcourt with Taurasi sidelined.
The winner of Thursday's game will advance to the second round, which is also a single-elimination contest. If the Mercury can make it past both single-elimination rounds, they would advance to a best-of-five semifinal series.