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2021 WNBA Playoffs first-round takeaways: Mercury escape in thriller over Liberty; Sky pull away from Wings

The 2021 WNBA Playoffs got underway on Thursday night with the single-elimination first round, and the second game of the doubleheader between the Phoenix Mercury and New York Liberty was a showcase for this format. After a thrilling, back-and-forth fourth quarter, the Mercury escaped with an 83-82 win thanks to a last-second free throw by Brianna Turner.

Skylar Diggins Smith went for 22 points, four rebounds and five assists, while Brittney Griner added 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. But it was Sophie Cunningham who stole the show, stepping up in the absence of Diana Taurasi to bury six 3-pointers en route to a career-high 21 points. 

The first game of the night was not quite so dramatic. While the Chicago Sky did allow the Dallas Wings to get back in the game in the second half, they pulled away in the fourth quarter to make sure they would

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