September 6, 2021
Chicago Sky: “Making the playoffs is not the goal”
"I think the key is to stay even-keeled,’’ Parker said. " If we can figure it out, I like our chances, and that’s why a lot of us are here"
Looking every bit the contenders for a WNBA championship, the Chicago Sky punched their ticket to the postseason after Sunday’s 92-84 win over the Las Vegas Aces in front of more than 5,200 fans at Wintrust Arena.
The Sky were the sixth team to make the playoffs with two spots remaining and three games to play in the regular season. This is the third consecutive year the Sky has advanced to the playoffs under general manager and head coach James Wade.
“As a franchise, we’re very excited,” Wade said, flashing a broad smile. “Now, we are coming together at the right time, everyone is healthy, and we’re just excited for the next few weeks so we can prepare. Now we know we have the postseason to get ready for.”
Before Wade, the Sky hadn’t made the postseason since 2016, before Elena Delle Donne was traded to the Washington Mystics. Wade has the second-most wins of any head coach in franchise history. It will be the franchise’s seventh overall playoff appearance (2013-16, 2019-21).
That said, just making the playoffs isn’t the goal in itself. “Our goal is to do our best every game,” said Wade, in a variation on the “we have to play them one at a time.” Wade explained that the outcome would take care of itself if everyone played their best.
“Our goal is to do our best in every game.”James Wade, Head Coach, Chicago Sky
Allie Quigley scored 22 points to lead the Sky against the Aces (20-8). In the postgame, she described the feeling of making the playoffs. “It’s huge. I think we were just so happy to get the win, we kind of got lost in the moment that like, oh my god I made the playoffs,” she said. “And it’s a really hard thing to do. I know. Some people might take it for granted but it’s tough to do, it’s tough to win in this league so it’s just a really good feeling.”
Team leader Candace Parker had a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds, which followed her 30-point, 14-rebound performance in a 90-83 loss to the Aces on Thursday night. Parker’s protegee, Diamond DeShields, finished with 17 points off the bench, and Kahleah Copper, who is having a star-making year, added 14, despite a collision that left her writhing in pain and holding her knee for several scary minutes.
A Tale of Two Teams
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…We had everything before us.“Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Watching this 2021 version of the Chicago Sky has been a tale of two teams, creating a “best” and “worst” of times scenario. For every three-game and a seven-game winning streak that the Sky (15-14) put together, there are valleys of despair, when energy lags, foul troubles, and communication on-court is inconsistent.
Take Thursday’s game against the Las Vegas Aces. Despite Parker leading both teams in scoring with 30 points, as well as amassing 14 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals, the Sky still ended up with a 90-83 loss. They started slow and weren’t connecting properly on shots. In other games, losses have been because of lapses of energy and judgment.
How can they sustain their current success?
“I think the key is to stay even-keeled,” Parker said. “If we can figure it out, I like our chances, and that’s why a lot of us are here. With that being said, I think we’re able to beat anybody, but we’re also able to lose to anybody, so until we fix that, we’ve got to continue to grind it out.’’
Parker described the mindset for the remainder of the season. “We still have games left, we have a little bit of a break, we’re able to get our legs underneath us and get back to it. We’ve got to continue to attack this and get better. We’ve missed what with our entire team we haven’t played, but a handful of games and so we got to get to, you know, get back to the basics and try to prepare going in the postseason.”
The 2021 WNBA Playoffs are scheduled to begin on Sept. 23. The Sky and the Washington Mystics will clash in an Eastern Conference regular-season matchup one week from today, Sept. 12, with tip-off set for 2:00 p.m. CT (3:00 p.m. ET).