Short-handed Mercury look to slow Charles, Liberty (May 22, 2017)

Short-handed Mercury look to slow Charles, Liberty (May 22, 2017)

Published May. 22, 2017 8:29 p.m. ET

The Phoenix Mercury will be without guard Diana Taurasi for Tuesday night's home game against the New York Liberty.

Taurasi is suspended for one game for a flagrant foul-2 during Friday's win at San Antonio, when she used her forearm to hit Stars forward Dearica Hamby in the back of the head during the second quarter.

Officials originally assessed a technical foul before the play was upgraded to the more serious violation, which calls for a suspension without pay.

New York (1-1) is also down a key player -- and will be for the rest of the season. The Liberty lost starting guard Brittany Boyd to a torn Achilles' tendon on Thursday night in a loss to Minnesota.


"You have to move on. This league doesn't stop," Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. "There are no days off. We're going to war with what we have."

Bria Hartley, acquired in an offseason trade with the Washington Mystics, is expected to step into the starting lineup Tuesday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

The Mercury (2-1) could opt to start the game with two point guards, with Leilani Mitchell (11.0 points per game off the bench) joining Danielle Robinson. Taurasi, who needs 145 points to become the WNBA career scoring leader, has struggled this season, shooting 21.2 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from 3-point range.

The marquee matchup will be in the post, with New York's Tina Charles battling Phoenix's Brittney Griner, who has posted consecutive double-doubles. The 6-foot-9 Griner is second in the league in scoring at 23.3 points per game and has made 20 of 27 shots in the past two games.

She is being asked to be a bigger part of the offense this season after Phoenix replaced everybody but her and Taurasi from last season's roster.

"I keep telling her, she can be as good as she wants, as long as she is ready to play in that regard," Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said. "She has really good guards around her. They are feeding her the ball at the right time. "

Charles led the WNBA in scoring and rebounding last season. She battled illness last week and is averaging only 9.0 points and 7.0 rebounds through two games. She won the matchups with Griner last season, averaging 26.7 points and 11.0 rebounds in three games against Phoenix, and Griner was at 10.0 and 5.7.

"We know Griner is a big part of Phoenix," Laimbeer said of Tuesday's matchup, "so we put a couple wrinkles in defensive-wise to see what we can do there."

New York is starting a two-game road trip that will end at the Seattle Storm on Friday. Phoenix stays at home for a game against the Dallas Wings on Saturday.