PHOENIX – Brittney Griner swatted away just about everything within reach in the first quarter, setting the stage for a Phoenix rout.
Griner set a playoff record with eight blocked shots, five in the first quarter, and the Mercury soared past the Chicago Sky 83-62 on Sunday in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.
“Her improvement this year has been incredible,” Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. “I don’t think people really appreciate it. They assume when you are 6-8, you are supposed to do everything. She has really evolved her game in the last year. She’s special.”
She showcased the remarkable mobility she has for someone who stands 6-foot-8.
“BG is a great help-side defender,” teammate Candice Dupree said. “If you get beat off the dribble, you kind of know that she’s back there.”
Griner, the WNBA defensive player of the year, also had 12 points and seven rebounds.
Dupree made her first 10 shots and scored 26 for the Mercury in their 19th consecutive home victory. Diana Taurasi added 19 points and 11 assists.
Phoenix shot a Finals record 58.5 percent from the field, Chicago 31.9 percent.
Sylvia Fowles scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Chicago but was just 8 of 20, usually against Griner in a matchup of the last two WNBA defensive players of the year. Elena Delle Donne only played 11 minutes because of a bad back. She finished with two points and didn’t play in the second half with the game already out of reach.
Delle Donne said she took herself out of the game because she thought she was hurting her team, and she hoped sitting the rest of the game out would make her better prepared for Game 2 of the best-of-five series, set for Tuesday night in Phoenix.
Alley Quigley, who was the league’s sixth woman of the year, scored 13 points for the Sky. She missed 11 of her 15 shots.
Phoenix led from the opening basket, was up by 22 at the half and by as many as 30 in the third.
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