CHICAGO – This is a situation they’ve become accustomed to in the James Wade era of the franchise.
All three of the head coach and general manager’s postseasons with the Chicago Sky have included a single-elimination first round game. They won one and lost one heading into yet another on Thursday night against the Dallas Wings.
But the experienced 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 Wintrust Arena.
With four starters reaching double-figures in points on the night, the Sky were able to pull away from the Wings in the fourth quarter for an 81-64 first round victory. The team advances to the second round of the WNBA Playoffs for the second time in three seasons, though another single-elimination game awaits them there.
The third-seeded Minnesota Lynx awaits the Sky on Sunday at 4 PM at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Whoever wins that “win-or-go-home” game would then face either 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-of-14 shooting from the field with Courtney Vandersloot contributing 17 points with six assists and Allie Quigley 15 points. Playing in her 13th postseason but first with the Sky, Candace Parker 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 make up a core of the group that was expected to compete for a WNBA championship before the season began thanks to the addition of Parker. Injuries to key players hurt the Sky early in the season, then a bit of inconsistency led them to finish with the league’s sixth-best record at 16-16.
Now the group is getting the chance to make their run towards the franchise’s first WNBA title over the next few weeks, doing so first by staying alive to fight another day again on Thursday night.