Liz Cambage is expected to make her highly anticipated Las Vegas Aces debut Friday night when they look to send the Phoenix Mercury to their first 0-2 start in four seasons.
Cambage, acquired from the Dallas Wings earlier this month after she had requested a trade, sat out Sunday's 83-70 season-opening victory over the Los Angeles Sparks with Achilles tendinitis. The WNBA MVP runner-up averaged a league-high 23.0 points and 9.7 rebounds last year and also set a single-game league record with a 53-point effort versus the New York Liberty.
"I feel like I could have played today, but we've got a plan, and I need to follow it," Cambage told ESPN.com after the win. "I wanted to be out there so bad, but the girls didn't even need me tonight. The plan has me playing on Friday, so I'll be back on Friday."
The Aces did not miss the 6-foot-8 Cambage all that much as last year's No. 1 overall pick A'ja Wilson totaled 21 points and 11 rebounds and Kayla McBride added 20 points. This year's top selection in the WNBA draft, Jackie Young, hit all four of her shots and finished with eight points in 23 minutes.
Dearica Hamby totaled 12 points and 14 boards off the bench, nearly matching the entire output of her Sparks counterparts.
Phoenix has not opened a season 0-2 since 2016, but avoiding such an outcome could prove difficult as Diana Taurasi remains sidelined after undergoing back surgery in April. DeWanna Bonner scored 31 points, but the Mercury faded after a fast start Saturday and lost 77-68 on the road to reigning champion Seattle.
Britney Griner added 18 points and eight rebounds, but she also had six of the team's 17 turnovers. There was also a lack of secondary scoring beyond the pair as the next-highest Mercury player - Essence Carson - finished with seven points.
"They know who is going to score for us and we need other people to be aggressive on offense and be more involved," Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello told The Associated Press.
The matchup in the paint between Cambage and Griner will take center stage in this match, with Griner getting bragging rights as Phoenix took two of three meetings from Dallas last season. The Australian averaged 13.7 points and 5.0 rebounds in their three matchups while Griner averaged 18.3 points and 5.0 boards.
Griner had three double-doubles in the four meetings with Las Vegas last year, averaging 21.7 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 4.0 blocks. Phoenix won three of them, including a 104-93 road victory in the most recent meeting Aug. 1.