The last time Mercury missed the playoffs was in 2012 Diana Taurasi Only played eight games through injury and Penny Taylor missed the full year after tearing an ACL during the off-season. Brittney Griner was designed the following spring.
The Mercury’s postseason streak was the second-longest in WNBA history. The Lynx made the playoffs for 11 straight seasons from 2011-2021.
Also Sunday Seattle Storm Their streak of back-to-back playoff appearances (2016–2022) ended when they lost to the Chicago sky. The longest active streak of postseason berths now belongs to the Connecticut Sun (2017-2023).
“It was a less than ideal season,” said interim coach Nikki Blue of what went wrong for the Mercury. “However, we still have a few games to go, so our season is not over yet. Even though we might miss the playoffs this year, we will still focus on winning the next few games.”
It was a disappointing year for the Mercury, which coach Vanessa Nygaard fired in the middle of her second season after a 2:10 start. Franchise stars Griner and Taurasi only appeared in 25 games each, while several players missed at least a handful of games through injury. Perennial All-Star Guardian Skylar Diggins Smith was off the entire season even during pregnancy/maternity leave.
Griner – who missed all of last season while jailed in Russia for 10 months – played on Sunday after missing a week due to health and safety protocols. Taurasi has been out since August 20 with a toe injury. And Sophia Cunningham missed the final three minutes of Sunday’s game after injuring himself.
Phoenix made the playoffs by a narrow 15-21 last year despite a turbulent summer of player absences, injuries and mid-season departures.
Blue said that while the Mercury will miss the postseason, “our players keep fighting and I’m very, very, very proud of us for that.”
“They are there every day and work hard. You don’t realize our record in our practices is what it is because their morale – they’re cheerful, they’re eager to learn, they’re eager to play, they’re eager to compete.”
Added guard Moriah Jeffersonwho is in her first year at Phoenix: “We’ve been through a lot this season, with injuries, changes of people and a new coaching staff. We don’t like excuses for ourselves, especially in games.” Like tonight. I think we should have won that. But for us it’s all about getting better with every single game. No matter what comes our way, we just have to keep pushing. This year we are much closer and hopefully we can continue to do that.”
Blue, who was appointed caretaker coach after Nygaard’s sacking, said she hoped the Mercury would put away their caretaker title, noting that despite any injuries, she was confident the team had made progress during her tenure.
“I hope they’ve seen the transformation that our team has made in the time I’ve been head coach,” said Blue. “Once we have a full squad, I’d love to see what we can do with it.”
Phoenix have six games left, two of them at home. The Mercury are 1-15 on the way.