Sky Begin Playoff Push With Turbulence


On Sunday, August 14th, 10 WNBA teams played for the first time after the Olympic break. The Storm and Sun instead played the preceding Thursday in the Commissioner’s Cup. After such a long break, one could expect rust. With the Chicago Sky playing a Storm team resting its top players (Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird), probability favored Chicago. With the Sky having three consecutive practices with all their players for the first time this season, the forecast for the week looked great. Little did we know that trouble awaited.

Waking Up From An Olympic Reverie

Coach Wade went with a lineup for the first game back that included Diamond DeShields, Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot, Kahleah Copper, and Astou Ndour-Fall. This fact surprised fans, considering how Stefanie Dolson played before the Olympic break and during the Olympics, where she won a gold medal. Also, consider that she started every game this year when available. With this new lineup, the Sky seemed to transition from offense to defense more quickly, but they still got off to a slow start. Chicago had multiple turnovers and let the Storm go on an 8-0 run that led to the first Sky timeout.

The timeout and substitutions seemed to settle the Sky down. The bench added a boost, including Dolson, rookie Dana Evans, and shooter Allie Quigley. Down the stretch, Copper, Deshields, and Parker contributed with tough rebounds and finishing at the rim. Even when down late in games, with a shooter like Quigley and a point guard in Vandersloot who keeps her cool no matter what, the Sky are never out of a game.

The Sky made their run with the Wintrust Arena crowd behind them, which was loud and vocal from the start. From clutch Vandersloot assists, threes from Quigley, and tough finishes around the rim, it only made sense that this game went into overtime! During the extra period, the Sky went on an 8-2 run, attacked the glass, and kept the ball alive in the most crucial moments. These accomplishments led to an 87-85 triumph.

Considering the Sky was at full strength, Chicago needed to adjust against the Dallas Wings on Tuesday and prepare for the quickly approaching playoffs.

Too close for comfort

After the hard-fought win on Sunday versus the Storm, Coach Wade altered the starting lineup. On Tuesday, he elected to start Azurá Stevens, rather than Ndour-Fall. A slow start and lack of rebounding held the Sky back, unfortunately. As a result, it was a back-and-forth battle the whole night.

While the Wings’ Allisha Gray and Moriah Jefferson had great games and made it challenging, Quigley and Copper kept Chicago in it. Copper, who leads the WNBA in fast break points, couldn’t be stopped. She finished with 16 points. Quigley had 24 points off the bench, including seven threes.

During the third quarter, Parker and Copper went down with apparent ankle injuries. Copper returned later, but Parker remained on the bench with ice. However, the game stayed close. Quigley hit a three-pointer with 52.7 seconds left to pull Chicago within two. Moriah Jefferson would then answer back with a bucket of her own. This bucket led the Wings to an 80-76 victory and clinched the season series for Dallas.

More questions than answers

With then games left in the regular season, there seem to be more questions surrounding Chicago than answers. Who are the best starters? Where is the consistency? Is Chicago a playoff team with a playoff bench that can support? Can they stay healthy? Injuries are a part of the game, but who will step up in these moments? Only the top four teams get playoff byes at the end of the season; right now, Chicago isn’t one of them. We’ve seen what the team is capable of but have also seen moments of inconsistent play. So which Sky team will we see for their next game against the Minnesota Lynx on August 21st?

About Karissa Engram

WNBALead and TheLeadSM Contributor #WNBA #WBB

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