CHICAGO – For this team, the scenario is nothing new, thanks to an experienced group and the fact that they’ve been there a few times recently.
“I feel like we’ve played a lot of single-elimination games,” said Chicago Sky veteran guard Courtney Vandersloot – and she is correct.
For a third-straight year, James Wade’s team opens up the 2021 WNBA Playoffs with a “win-or-go-home” game, with the victor on Thursday advancing to another single-elimination contest against either third-seeded Minnesota or fourth-seeded and reigning champion Seattle.
They picked up a win over the Mercury in 2019 at home before losing in heartbreaking fashion to the Aces in the second single-elimination contest in Las Vegas. In 2020, the Sky lost to the Connecticut Sun in the first round while playing in the Bradenton “bubble.”
“We’ve won a few, we’ve lost a few, so we know what it takes,” said Vandersloot, who along with teammate Allie Quigley, has played in the playoffs with the Sky six times, including a WNBA Finals in 2014. “We know that we have to be great in every single possession, and I think that experience alone will be beneficial.”
There are six players on the Sky roster who took part in the 2019 or 2020 single-elimination games or both for the franchise. Not included in that group is Candace Parker, but she’s no stranger to the postseason in the WNBA, having taken part in 12 of them during her years with the Sparks.
She won a Western Conference title twice and the WNBA championship in 2016 and only missed the playoffs once in her tenure with the team.
Wade certainly appreciates having that experience on the roster, but he knows it will take more than that if the Sky are to continue their run towards their first league title in franchise history.
“I think experience factors, but you still have to play the game,” said Wade when asked how much experience factors into Thursday’s game. “Experience is always a thing. We have experienced players, they’ve been in the playoffs, we have players that have been in series, but we have to go out there and execute the game plan and play the game.”
They’ll get that chance once again on Thursday, hoping a veteran team can find their stride at the right time this fall.