Wedgies are the worst — especially when they ruin a team's playoff hopes.
On Sunday, the Phoenix Mercury suffered a 77-74 defeat to the Dallas Wings, which eliminated the Mercury from 2023 WNBA Playoff contention. What makes matters worse for Mercury fans is how the defeat happened.
After the Phoenix Mercury finished the first half with a 42-35 lead, the Dallas Wings crawled their way back into contention throughout the third quarter and tied the game at 55-55 heading into the fourth. Fast-forward to seven seconds left in the game, when the Wings clung to a 77-73 lead with Mercury forward Michaela Onyenwere at the free throw line. Onyenwere made the first free throw to make it a three-point game, then missed the second free throw (seemingly on purpose), grabbed her own rebound and flung the basketball behind her to teammate Sug Sutton. Then Sutton whipped the ball across the court to Moriah Jefferson, who was in perfect position to launch a game-tying three as the buzzer sounded.
Jefferson got the shot off just in time, and — the ball got wedged in between the rim and backboard, allowing the Wings to escape with a 77-74 win.
— CJ Fogler account may or may not be notable (@cjzero) August 28, 2023
Not only did the loss bring the Mercury's record to 9-25 on the season and knock them out of the playoff race, it also marks the first time since 2012 that the Mercury will miss the WNBA playoffs.
However, there is still hope for the Phoenix faithful. Missing the playoffs also cements the Mercury's spot as a lottery team in the 2024 WNBA Draft. And considering that Phoenix currently has the WNBA's worst record, it has an excellent chance of securing a top three pick — perhaps even the No. 1 overall, who would likely be Caitlin Clark — in what's expected to be one of the best draft classes in WNBA history.
The last two times that the Mercury had the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft were in 2004 and 2013, respectively. In 2004, they selected Diana Taurasi — who will go down as one of the best female basketball players of all time. In 2013, the Mercury selected Brittney Griner, who — despite her horrific incarceration in Russia last year — remains the WNBA's best center.
With any luck, the Mercury's 2024 lottery pick will be the perfect fit for Phoenix and will perhaps propel them back into playoff contention next season. That's what Mercury fans are hoping for — if only so this wedgie becomes a distant memory.
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