Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi to miss rest of WNBA regular season with quad strain

Diana Taurasi, a three-time WNBA champion and the league’s all-time top scorer, will miss the remainder of the regular season with a quad burden, the Phoenix Mercury announced Monday as the team struggles to earn a spot over the past week to secure in the playoffs.

Regarding the possibility of Taurasi returning for a possible playoff run, a Mercury spokesman said, “She is out for the remainder of the regular season and will provide more information on if/when we make the playoffs.”

The team also said Taurasi would be made available to media sometime this week.

Yvonne “Vonnie” Turner has signed a hardship contract to fill Taurasi’s squad spot.

Taurasi’s 16.7 points and 3.9 assists per game were second best on the roster behind Skylar Diggins-Smith’s 19.7 and 5.5. The former three-time UConn champion and five-time Olympic gold medalist last played on Aug. 2, where she sustained the injury while playing 11 minutes in a loss to Connecticut.

Taurasi had originally been listed as “questionable” in the Mercury’s last two games, with head coach Vanessa Nygaard saying ahead of Saturday’s game against the Liberty that Taurasi was being evaluated that day to see if she would be able to to take the floor.

Phoenix is ​​one of six teams battling for three unclaimed playoff spots. Though the Mercury would have secured eighth and final playoff spot had the regular season ended Tuesday, the Liberty are just a half game behind them while the Lynx and the Sparks are both a game and seven days behind remain in the regular season.

ESPN’s BPI gave the Mercury a 67.5% chance of making the playoffs — second-best of the six teams in the hunt — before news of Taurasi’s season-ending injury. Phoenix have three games left in the regular season, all home games: Wednesday against the Lynx, Friday against the Wings and Sunday against defending champions Sky.

The Mercury, who parted ways with former head coach Sandy Brondello during the offseason after an appearance in the Finals, has had a roller-coaster year. Perennial All-Star Brittney Griner was arrested in Russia for bringing cannabis into the country and was sentenced to nine years in prison last week. Former WNBA MVP Tina Charles — a free-agent acquisition last offseason — made a buyout in late June and eventually signed with the Storm in hopes of winning a championship with them.

Other players have missed time at various other points this season due to injuries, with Kia Nurse yet to speak up after tearing her cruciate ligament in last season’s playoffs. On Saturday, both Taurasi and Diggins-Smith missed the must-win game against the Liberty, where the Mercury eventually scored a 76-62 excitement.

Taurasi, who only turned 40 in June, has struggled with both her shooting efficiency and defence, especially compared to her historic game. But she has proven to be one of the grippiest postseason players in WNBA history, most recently helping propel fifth-place Mercury to the finals last season after suffering sternum, ankle and foot injuries over the summer had dealt with. She is one of three players, along with Sabrina Ionescu and teammate Diggins-Smith, to have 500 points, 100 rebounds and 100 assists this season and became the first WNBA player with a 30-point game at age in July 40 years or older.

Though she said ahead of the season that they are “planning[s] “Looking forward to playing for a while,” Taurasi will become a free agent after this season. She has played her entire career in Phoenix since being drafted there in 2004. Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi to miss rest of WNBA regular season with quad strain

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