CHICAGO – This is a situation they have become accustomed to in the James Wade era of the franchise.
All three Chicago Sky head coach and general manager postseasons have included a first-round single-elimination match. They won one and lost another against the Dallas Wings on Thursday night.
But the veteran Sky, from players who were both in Chicago and not for those previous win-or-go-home games, looked like pros when it came to handling the pressure at the Wintrust Arena.
With four starters hitting double digits in points overnight, the Sky was able to pull out of the Wings in the fourth quarter for an 81-64 first-round win. The team advances to the second round of the WNBA Playoffs for the second time in three seasons, although a single-elimination game awaits them there.
The third-placed Minnesota Lynx awaits on the Sky at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Whoever wins that “win-or-go-home” game will then face the Connecticut Sun or Las Vegas Aces for the best-of-five semifinals.
Kahleah Copper led the effort with a game-high 23 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the field with Courtney Vandersloot contributing 17 points with six assists and Allie Quigley 15 points. Candace Parker was in her 13th postseason, but first with the Sky, and enjoyed a strong overall effort as she had 11 points along with team-highs in rebounds (17) and assists (7) in 33 minutes.
All of these players form a core of the group that, thanks to the addition of Parker, was expected to compete for a WNBA championship before the season started. Injuries to key players hurt the Sky early in the season, after which a bit of inconsistency led to them finishing with the league’s sixth best record at 16-16.
Now the group will have a chance to run for the franchise’s first WNBA title in the coming weeks, first by staying alive to fight another day on Thursday night.
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