WASHINGTON D.C. – It’s as anticipated of a season as any other for the franchise for a number of reasons.
For one, the Sky are as good as they have been in their history, sporting a talented collection of players with All-Star talent. There’s also the addition of one of the best players in league history – Candace Parker – who makes her return home after 13 seasons with the Sparks.
James Wade built this club as the general manager and then took them on the floor to face the Mystics in a nationally televised game on Saturday. For one afternoon, the Sky look as good as everyone might hoped for this offseason.
Facing a Mystics team without Elena Delle Donne, the Sky were able to get out to an early lead and never looked back in a 70-56 win at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington DC.
A three-point lead after one quarter ballooned to 16 at the half thanks to a 24-11 run in the second quarter, and the Sky’s defense never let the Mystics start a rally in what would be a historic defensive performance for the team.
They limited Washington to 25 percent shooting – the lowest by an opponent against the Sky in franchise history. The Mystics’ 56-points were the third-fewest allowed by the team in history as well.
Parker helped to fuel the effort in her first game with three blocks to go along with 16 points and eight rebounds in the effort. Kahleah Copper also had eight boards along with a pair of steals, which were part of seven for the team, and a team-high 19 points.
“We talked about defensive mindset, and that’s how we were gauging our play,” said Wade. “Of course, offensively we wished we could have found a bit more fluidity in what we do and actually executed a little bit better as far as getting out on the breaks and stuff like that.
“But I think that’s going to come with time. But the defensive urgency to that side of the ball is probably something we’re going to keep paying attention to and just try to build from that.”
They’ll have plenty of time to do so over the summer and early fall, when the Sky to try live up to their big expectations for the 2021 season. On Saturday, at least, they lived up to them over the course of 40 minutes.