Sky take 1-0 lead in WNBA Finals, beating Mercury 91-77

Kahleah Copper and Courtney Vandersloot finished with double-doubles. Copper had a game-high 21 points to go with 10 rebounds, and Vandersloot added 12 points and 11 assists.

SHARE Sky take 1-0 lead in WNBA Finals, beating Mercury 91-77

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PHOENIX — Home court is never more of an advantage than it is in a championship series. That’s the assumption, anyway.

But the sixth-seeded Sky defied conventional thinking by torching the fifth-seeded Mercury 91-77 on Sunday in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.

The victory was the Sky’s first in the Finals in their history and moved them two away from their first WNBA title. Game 2 is set for 8 p.m. Wednesday in Phoenix.

‘‘There’s definitely a lot of confidence knowing that we now have [the advantage],’’ Sky guard Allie Quigley said. ‘‘We don’t want to relax at all. We want to get two games here.’’

The Sky had to overcome Finals jitters in the first quarter. The last Sky player to make a Finals appearance was Candace Parker in 2017 with the Sparks. Before that, it was Courtney Vandersloot and Quigley, who were members of the Sky in the 2014 Finals.

Unsurprisingly, it was Parker who calmed her teammates down in the first 10 minutes, telling them they were still in a good place despite falling behind by nine at one point in the first quarter.

By the second quarter, the Sky were settled in and able to establish their pace. They closed the first half on a 17-2 run and didn’t let up.

Coming off only one day of rest after their Game 5 victory against the Aces in the semifinals, the Mercury looked fatigued. But Mercury guard Diana Taurasi, who had 17 points and three rebounds, said the loss had nothing to do with the team being tired. The Sky, she said, took things to another level.

Sky star Kahleah Copper was able to get to the rim, and the Mercury had no answer for her. Not even center Brittney Griner could stop Copper’s shiftiness and precision in the paint.

Copper and Vandersloot finished with double-doubles for the second time in these playoffs, with Copper scoring a game-high 21 points to go with 10 rebounds and Vandersloot adding 12 points and 11 assists. Four other Sky players scored in double figures, including Quigley (18) and Parker (16).

‘‘Our team defense wasn’t where it needed to be,’’ Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said.

The Sky outscored the Mercury 48-32 in the paint. Azura Stevens (10 points, eight rebounds) and Stefanie Dolson (14 points off the bench) held Griner to eight points in the first half. Griner was more productive in the second and finished with 20 points and six rebounds.

The Sky have been the best team throughout the playoffs, looking like the group everyone expected them to be at the beginning of the season.

Parker talked about the roller coaster the Sky were on at the beginning of the season, losing consecutive games before winning seven in a row. Both streaks showed them the team they could be: At their best, they could contend for a title; at their worst, they couldn’t get out of their own way.

The Sky are at their best right now and, as a result, are two victory away from becoming WNBA champions, all of them but Parker for the first time.

‘‘We have to make sure we’re not satisfied with winning the first game,’’ Sky coach/general manager James Wade said.

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