Sky News

After blowout, Sky need a new focus for Game 2 against Aces

8 months agoKarli Bell

The No. 8 Chicago Sky came onto the court at T-Mobile Arena wanting to try and steal a game away from the defending champion No. 1 Las Vegas Aces. The Sky looked rattled right at tip time with the Aces jumping out to an early 12-5 lead, leading the Sky to play from behind the rest of the way in the 87-59 loss in Game 1.

“I don’t think we were disciplined in our offense. We let them disrupt us and kind of rattle us a little bit early on,” Kahleah Copper said after the loss.

Copper was the only Sky player to reach double-digit scoring with 15 points. Courtney Williams finished with 9 points followed by Alanna Smith’s 8 points, all 8 points coming in the first quarter.

Las Vegas plays at a high transitional pace, pushing high defensive rebounds up the floor and converting it into quick, easy points. The Sky had 14 turnovers in the contest and the Aces made them pay for it every single time, scoring 16 points off the Sky’s turnovers and 27 points in transition.

“Sometimes when you don’t get touches, it translates to the next possession in just trying to get the ball up there,” Williams said. “Just letting [the team] know to stay disciplined and know it’s going to come back around. It’s basketball. It’s going to come back around.

“It doesn’t matter whether we miss or make shots, but we can’t give up all these transition buckets. We got to be better on transition defense.”

The Aces picked the Sky’s offense apart and made everything difficult, leading to poor shot selection, rushed passes and sloppy turnovers. With every little mistake, the Sky’s body language showed growing frustration with heads going down after turnovers, and that led to a cycle of continuous mistakes in the first half, putting the Sky in a deep hole they couldn’t dig out.

“This is a championship caliber team. Their defense was on point. They were aggressive. They were physical, and we had a hard time getting into things,” head coach Emre Vatansever said after the game.

What the Sky should focus on in Game 2

Film will show a lot of the problems for the Sky, including their decision-making. The Sky have said that the path to the playoffs has a very slim margin of error. They can eliminate those mistakes by making the “winning plays” with extra passes instead of just settling for shots early in the shot clock.

In the third quarter, Copper was moving the ball up the floor in transition and pulled up a mid-range jumper just outside the lane before A’ja Wilson came in with the block from behind. What Copper will see on tape is a wide open Marina Mabrey on the right side wing for a 3-point shot. 

A few times in the second quarter, Courtney Williams tried to thread passes into narrow lanes inside to Elizabeth Williams or Smith before either Kelsey Plum, Chelsea Gray or Jackie Young poked the ball up the floor into transition. Against the top rated defense in the league, the Sky cannot force passes inside or settle for shots so early in their offensive possessions.

“We see it. We were trying to make those passes, but even their guards were sitting on top of our posts and didn’t let us catch the ball. It’s clean enough. We need to go out there with more urgency and physicality,” Vantasever said after the game.

Instead, the Sky have to start attacking and kicking out. Las Vegas has the size inside to shut down about any and all post or driving action. However, continued attacking leads to more trips to the free throw line as well as foul trouble for Las Vegas. When the Sky attack inside, the Aces start to clog the paint, leaving at least one shooter on the arc open. The Sky rank in the top 3 in 3-point shooting, and consistent attacking will lead to a higher scoring opportunity at the 3-point line.

While they need to be aggressive offensively, they need to settle a bit defensively. Smith got into foul trouble picking up 3 in the first quarter as well as Copper picking up 2 early. The Sky’s physicality is an asset when it’s disciplined. Chicago needs to get back to that, and it needs to run all the way through the bench.

The Sky have relied on the bench – specifically Dana Evans – to bring an extra defensive spark throughout the season, but now is the time for the reserves to show up offensively. Chicago will need more than just 16 combined points from their bench if they want to keep up with Las Vegas to force a game 3 back in Chicago.

The Sky have four days to figure everything out on the West Coast before playing a decisive game 2 on Sunday. Tip time is set for 2 p.m. CT on ABC.

Don’t Miss Out On The Action!

Sign up for the Marquee Sports Network Newsletter today for all the latest Cubs news, plus upcoming Marquee programming and much more!

Newsletter Signup
Consent *
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.