October 4, 2021
These Sky players are why Chicago is on the cusp of the finals
The Chicago team we expected all season is finally here
“You guys are one win…one win away of controlling your destiny. And we doing it in our house… Our house!”
James Wade, Chicago Sky Head Coach and General Manager, in postgame remarks to the team, posted on Twitter.
At Wintrust Arena on Sunday, it didn’t seem to matter that No. 6 seed Chicago Sky spent most of their weekend traveling, taking three commercial flights from three airports in three cities to get back to Chicago for Game No. 3 of the WNBA playoff semifinals.
Nor did it seem to matter how many times the lead changed (16) or the game was tied (10).
Could this be the same team that finished the regular season at .500 and 10 games behind the Sun?
Yep, this was the team we thought they’d be all along.
Two for the Seesaw
Through four quarters on Sunday, the Sky and Sun seesawed back and forth. But then, determination overtook Wintrust Arena, and victory brings its own reward.
After trading wins and tying the Connecticut Sun 1-1 at Mohegan Sun Arena, the Sky made clutch shots down the stretch and edged the Sun, 86-83 in front of a screaming crowd of 7, 421 that encouraged and urged them to their best, and most critical, clutch performance of the season.
Now, leading the series 2-1, the Sky is just one win away from the Finals for the second time in franchise history. The last time was seven years ago, when the Sky beat the Indiana Fever to clinch the Eastern Conference title and advance to the 2014 WNBA Finals.
These are the outstanding performances at the most critical time possible made this win a reality:
Forward Kahleah Copper continued an outstanding season with a playoff/career-high 26 points and shot 64.3% from the field as well as 50% from beyond the three-point arc.
“Kah’s energy was infectious,” Sky head coach James Wade said in postgame comments. “Defensively, offensively, when we needed plays she and [Allie] Quigley made them. The energy was just amazing that they gave tonight.”
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Guard Courtney Vandersloot agreed. “When Kah is like that, it’s hard not to just jump on board with her,” she said. “It’s so contagious and she’s obviously a very special athlete, but when she is like that emotionally, she’s so much fun to play with. We all just jump on board and ride her wave.”
“When she’s like this, it’s over,” Parker said. “We remember the big plays, but it’s those and some.”
Trailing 74-71 with 5:17 to play, the Sky went on a 9-0 run. Vandersloot made the second of two free throws to give the Sky a two-point lead with 8 seconds left.
She finished with 13 assists in the playoffs for the fourth time in her career, and is now the first player to have 13 or more assists in a playoff game multiple times in the same postseason. In addition, Vandersloot now has 200 career playoff QA, and is now seventh on the all-time list.
Records were made to be broken, right? Parker passed former LA Sparks teammate Lisa Leslie for third on the all-time WNBA Playoff rebound leaders list as she grabbed 10 points and 10 boards, for a career total of 481 rebounds in 13 years. And she looked far from done in her ability to generate looks, touches, and fire on the courts. The former Defensive Player of the Year lifts all players around her.
“She did a lot of things that’s not going to be in the stat sheet, especially the box out and keeping them off the offensive rebounds, she did a better job of that,” Wade said. “Grabbing key rebounds for us and making key shots for us. So Candace’s energy was amazing. We’re gonna need (that energy) Wednesday because she’s been in these type of games.”
Quigley added 21 points to burnish an already stellar 2021 season. She’s on an offensive mission right now. Need we say more?
Staying solid: The keys to victory in Game 4
“We’re just gonna stay solid and put our flag in the sand,” said Wade. “And we know they’re a great team. We’re not gonna take anything away from them (Connecticut Sun) or take them lightly.”
Wade continued. “They have the MVP. They have the most improved player, and they have the best coach in the league, so we’re not going to take them lightly, but at the same time, we know who we are and we’re confident in that.”
Prediction for Game 4
l initially predicted the Sky to take this in five, and l’m sticking with that prediction. There’s no team that can dish out revenge like the Sun, and they certainly had the Sky’s number in Game 2. I expect them to come out swinging… hard! Connecticut Sun takes Game 4, 85-80.
Game 4 tips off Wednesday, Oct. 6, on ESPN. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. CT (8:00 p.m. ET).