October 15, 2021 

Sweet Home Chicago for Games 3 and 4

Keys to bringing a championship home this weekend for the Sky

“C’mon, baby don’t ya wanna go… back to that same old place, Sweet Home Chicago!”

Eric Clapton, ‘Sweet Home Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago lions are dressed up in Chicago Sky merch, ready to welcome the team home for Games 3 and 4 of the WNBA Finals.

And it’s fair assumption that the Chicago Sky will find it a blessed relief to be back in their town, #skytown, in front of a sold-out Wintrust Arena.

A crowd of 10,387 fans is expected to attend Friday’s Game 3, according to the team, and the same is expected for Sunday’s Game 4 matchup. That’s a sellout.

It’s a wholly different era now, and Chicago is going all out to welcome its hometown heroes back to town.

“Chicago embraces basketball, embraces sports, and embraces winners,” Candace Parker told NBC5 Chicago as the team disembarked from their league-sponsored private plane at Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling. “So hopefully they (fans) can bring us that extra energy we need.”

As they enter Wintrust Arena for Game 3 on Friday night at 8 pm CT, and Game 4 on Sunday at 2pm CT, the enthusiasm, and the stakes, couldn’t be higher: 

Win both, and they win it all. Lose, and they go back to Phoenix for a Tuesday night matchup.

Chicago hasn’t had a basketball championship trophy in 23 years. A generation has grown up without knowing basketball glory since 1998.

The time is now — there’s definitely an urgency in the air.

It’s a guarantee that the Phoenix Mercury won’t make it easy on the Sky. They evened the series Wednesday night with an 91-86 overtime win in Game 2 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix.

Looking every bit ‘the General,’ it was guard Courtney Vandersloot’s sheer will and fourth postseason double-double — 20 points, 14 assists, and five steals– that kept the Sky in the game. It was Vandersloot’s leaning layup with 4.4 seconds left that got past 6’9 center Brittney Griner and sent the game into overtime.

KEYS TO WINNING THE WEEKEND

  1. More Free Throws, Please

The Sky outscored the Mercury 50-40 in the paint but went to the free-throw line only four times, the lowest in team history. By comparison, the Mercury went to the line 11 times.

That was the exact number the Sky had in Game 1.

“Brittney Griner shot more free throws than our team,” said James Wade, Sky Coach and General Manager . after the game. “That says a lot.”

2. Limit those Turnovers!

In the fourth quarter, the Sky let a nine-point lead slip away. With just under six minutes left, the Sky still led 69-67. But the momentum shifted dramatically as the Sky committed six turnovers in the fourth quarter, which the Mercury naturally took advantage of, scoring 25 points off 16 Sky turnovers.

“There were key moments in the game where we turned it over, could have scored two and instead gave up a three,” Parker said in postgame remarks.

3. The 3 G’s: Be Grimy. Be Gutsy. And contain Griner.

After the Mercury’s Game 1 loss, Taurasi promised that they would be “grimy and gutsy.” And they were. It’s time to return the favor on home court.

Griner scored 29 points in Game 2. While it’s almost impossible to contain her, the Sky have to find a way around her.

Late Breaking News

In overnight news, Taurasi was fined $2,500 for making inappropriate contact with a game official, it was announced by Bethany Donaphin, Head of WNBA League Operations.

The incident occurred with 5:52 remaining in the second quarter.

Prediction

I picked the Sky in five, and they’ve been sufficiently scared enough in Game 2 to get their act together. Sky win this one, 85-80.

Written by Alison Moran-Powers

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