The stat says the most, so let’s start there: Diana Taurasi was 13-0 in win-or-go-home elimination games coming into Tuesday night. She had a chance to make it 14-0 in Tuesday night’s Game 5 matchup against the top-ranked Seattle Storm. Even though the Storm are the best team left in these playoffs, the odds were clearly in Taurasi’s favor.
In the end, though, Taurasi was finally bested. Thanks to foul trouble and a series of daggers from good friend Sue Bird, the Storm defeated the Mercury, snapping one of sports’ most amazing streaks.
Before that loss, Taurasi had extended her undefeated record in winner-take-all playoff games from 11 to 13. This was the third straight year in the WNBA’s new playoff format that the Mercury had been forced to play two single-elimination games during the opening rounds. In large part thanks to Taurasi, the Mercury are 6-0 in such contests.
On Aug. 23, Taurasi scored 27 points leading the Mercury to yet another massive win against the higher seeded Connecticut Sun. Two days prior, Taurasi did the same, dropping 26 points, 12 assists, and six three-pointers against the Dallas Wings.
Prior to Seattle’s Game 5 win, Taurasi was the unslayable future Hall of Famer who has proven so impossible to stop in these situations. Seriously, though — 13-0, and now 14-1. If you extend this to her college career in the NCAA tournament, the stat jumped to 33-1 — and now 33-2. Many of those came early in the tournament against teams that the Connecticut was heavily favored to beat, but they were still games that could turn on a single bad performance. In these games, Taurasi is flawless.
Or, now, at least as close to flawless as you can be.
Taurasi’s history in WNBA winner takes all games
2007 - WNBA Finals
Mercury at Shock: 108-92
This game allowed the Mercury to be the first team to ever win a WNBA title on the road. The game was never close in large part due to a 20-9 run in the first quarter in which Taurasi had eight points and two three-pointers.
2009 - Conference Semifinals
Silver Stars at Mercury: 100-92
Taurasi led the way with 30 points including leading a 14-4 run late in the game to put away the Silver Stars.
2009 - Conference Finals
Sparks at Merucry: 85-74
Taurasi scored 15 of her 21 points in the second half with seven rebounds and three assists to lead the and added seven rebounds and three assists to lead the Mercury past the Los Angeles Sparks.
2009 - WNBA Finals
Fever at Mercury: 94-86
The Mercury won their second title in three years carried by Taurasi with 26 points, 6 rebounds, and four assists in the decisive Game 5.
2011 - Conference Semifinals
Mercury at Storm: 77-75
In true Taurasi fashion, she fouled out and was whistled for a technical with 6:38 remaining. but she had 18 points and 5 assists.
2013 - Conference Semifinals
Mercury at Sparks: 78-77
Taurasi played 40 minutes recording a double-double 18 points and 10 rebounds.
2014 - Conference Finals
Lynx at Mercury: 96-78
Taurasi had 31 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists including a including hitting a 50-footer at the end of the third quarter. After the game head coach Sandy Brondello said, “There is no player in the world I would rather have on my team.”
2016 - First Round
Mercury at Fever: 89-98
The elimination game slayer scored 20 points on the road and overcame what was Tamika Catchings final game in the WNBA for the Fever.
2016 - Second Round
Mercury at Liberty: 90-86
Taurasi drops 30 points on the road to send the Liberty home.
2017 - First Round
Storm at Mercury - 79-69
After picking up three quick fouls in the first half, Taurasi came thru late in the game, going 8-of-8 from the free throw line and became the second WNBA player to reach 1,000 career playoff points
2017 - Second Round
Mercury at Sun - 88-83
Taurasi goes on the road to defeat the higher seeded Sun while dropping 23 points.
2018 - First Round
Wings at Mercury - 101-83
Taurasi was on fire from the start, finishing with 26 points and 12 assists and six three-pointers.
2018 - Second Round
Mercury at Sun - 96-86
Taurasi leads the Mercury again, scoring 27 points on the road. And after the game she took some shots saying, “You can post Instagram pictures, you can clap in people’s faces, that’s not gonna get you a win though.” GOAT.
2018- Conference Finals
Mercury at Storm - 84-94
The Mercury spent most of the first three quarters in front, but Taurasi was plagued by foul trouble, including some dubious calls that took her out of the game in the third quarter.
With Taurasi’s rhythm thrown off, good friend Sue Bird took over in the fourth to lead Seattle to victory.