WNBA Excitement, Mercury and Aces Set for Epic Encounter


In the world of professional women’s basketball, the anticipation for matchups between powerhouse teams like the one between the Phoenix Mercury and Las Vegas Aces on May 14 at Michelob ULTRA Arena is always high. These games are not just a display of elite athleticism and competition; they also tell the story of strategies, leadership changes, and player dynamics that shape the course of the season.


Mercury’s Strategic Pivot

The Phoenix Mercury’s decision to adopt a win-now strategy instead of rebuilding after a disappointing 9-31 season last year demonstrates a commitment to immediate success. This approach is a bold move, considering the team’s performance could have easily led to a complete overhaul.

The new regime under owner Matt Ishbia, general manager Nick U’Ren, and head coach Nate Tibbetts is signaling a fresh start with a focus on leveraging the team’s existing strengths and making strategic acquisitions to fill in the gaps.


New Leadership at the Helm

The Mercury’s leadership saw significant changes with the firing of head coach Vanessa Nygaard after 12 games in June 2023. This move was part of a broader strategy to revitalize the team under the guidance of owner Matt Ishbia, who took over in February 2023.

The hiring of general manager Nick U’Ren in July and head coach Nate Tibbetts later in the year marks the beginning of a new chapter for the team, aiming to leave the second-worst season in franchise history behind and make a strong comeback.


Diana Taurasi’s Legacy

Diana Taurasi’s decision to return for her 20th season is a significant boost for the Phoenix Mercury. At 41, Taurasi’s unparalleled skills and leadership on the court are invaluable, especially as the team navigates through a period of transition and aims for competitive success. Her presence not only brings high-level performance but also serves as a beacon of motivation for her teammates and the entire organization.


The Mercury’s Offseason Moves

The Phoenix Mercury’s trade of their 2025 first-round pick for Michaela Onyenwere underscores the team’s urgency to win now, especially in light of Diana Taurasi’s potential retirement after the 2024 season. This strategy highlights the team’s willingness to sacrifice future draft capital for immediate talent, indicating a clear focus on leveraging the current roster’s strengths to make a deep playoff run.


Acquiring Kahleah Copper and Morgan Bertsch

The blockbuster trade that brought 2021 Finals MVP wing Kahleah Copper and forward Morgan Bertsch to the Mercury from the Chicago Sky was a clear statement of intent.

Giving up four draft picks, including the No. 3 pick in 2024, along with Onyenwere and forward Brianna Turner, the Mercury have bolstered their lineup with a versatile and potent scorer in Copper, who has been an all-star the last three seasons with an average of 18.7 points per game in 2023. This move significantly enhances their offensive capabilities and depth.


Aces’ Championship Pedigree

The Las Vegas Aces’ decision to retain their core lineup from the 2022 championship team into the expanded 2023 season reflects a strategy of continuity and refinement. With a WNBA-best 34-6 record, even without Candace Parker since July, the Aces demonstrated resilience and depth. Their ability to maintain high performance levels through the playoffs, despite key injuries, showcases a well-rounded and determined squad capable of overcoming adversity.


The Impact of A’ja Wilson



A’ja Wilson’s dominant performance throughout the playoffs, particularly in the absence of Candace Parker, was a testament to her skill and determination. Despite the MVP snub, Wilson led the Aces with formidable poise and effectiveness, emphasizing her crucial role in the team’s success. Her ability to elevate her game in critical moments underlines her status as one of the WNBA’s elite players.

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The Mercury’s Backcourt Dynamics

The departure of Skylar Diggins-Smith to the Seattle Storm after three seasons with the Mercury created a significant gap in the backcourt. This void was adeptly filled by signing guard Natasha Cloud, who brings a wealth of experience and a championship pedigree from her time with the Washington Mystics.

Cloud’s defensive prowess and playmaking skills are expected to blend seamlessly with the talents of Taurasi, Copper, and Cunningham, potentially elevating the Mercury’s backcourt performance.

Frontcourt Adjustments and Depth

The trade that sent guard Moriah Jefferson to the Connecticut Sun in exchange for forward Rebecca Allen on February 3 was a strategic move to bolster the Mercury’s frontcourt depth. This adjustment was particularly crucial following the loss of forward Megan Gustafson to the Las Vegas Aces.

With Brittney Griner’s anticipated re-signing, the Mercury’s frontcourt is poised to become a formidable force, offering a balanced attack alongside their dynamic backcourt.

Keys to the Game



To secure a win against the Las Vegas Aces, the Phoenix Mercury must leverage the versatility and scoring prowess of Kahleah Copper alongside Diana Taurasi’s unparalleled experience and leadership. Maximizing their new acquisitions’ impact while exploiting their dynamic backcourt, especially with Natasha Cloud’s playmaking and defense, will be crucial.

For the Aces, maintaining their championship core’s continuity, alongside A’ja Wilson‘s dominant inside presence and the strategic depth offered by their bench, will be key. Capitalizing on their cohesive team play and exploiting their depth against the Mercury’s adjustments will be their path to victory.