Sky drop ‘physical’ Game 1 to Sun
In the four regular season matchups against the Connecticut Sun, the Chicago Sky dominated the opening quarters and had a comfortable lead in every matchup.
Playoffs were a different story with the Sun coming out strong in the opening quarter and disrupting the Sky’s game plan, handing Chicago a 68-63 Game 1 loss in the WNBA Semi-Finals.
Those 63 points are a season-low for the Sky this season.
“They haven’t really played us like that all year,” Azurá Stevens said after the game. “We knew it was going to be a battle on the boards, but they really came out super physical.”
Even though the Sun threw the first punch jumping out to an early 17-9 lead, Chicago did not go away.
“I don’t really think our defense was terrible. We didn’t really score like we usually do,” Stevens said. “They threw different things at us. We were sort of, I don’t want to say confused, but I guess a little bit. We didn’t really respond quick enough to what they were doing.”
The physicality stuck around even in the 4th quarter when Kahleah Copper and Courtney Williams stayed on the ground, fighting for a jump ball well after the whistle was blown. Both guards yelled “give me the rock” until they were finally separated.
“Neither of them wanted to let go of the ball which just shows their competitiveness,” Allie Quigley said. “I knew Kah wasn’t going to let go. It shows how we both want this. We want this game. It’s going to continue to be that way.”
Connecticut forced Chicago to play Sun basketball – slower, rugged and more methodical. The Sun limited any baseline movement or backdoor cuts; it showed when Courtney Vandersloot didn’t get her first assist until the 4th quarter. There were glimpses of the Sky’s style of play every now and then, allowing Chicago to cut into the Sun lead.
“We can’t let them get out in transition,” head coach James Wade said. “The fact that they got out in transition a little bit more than we did, and we’re the team that typically plays fast, I think that hurt us a bit. That was the difference in the game. We really didn’t have the offensive production from certain spots on the floor, and that really hurt us.”
Candace Parker kept Chicago hanging around, especially in the second half, putting up a double-double with 19 points and 18 rebounds. Her contributions went far beyond the backboard with six blocked shots, four steals and five assists.
“We didn’t shoot the ball that well, and that’s something that’s going to play to their advantage,” Stevens said. “They want us to force everything in, but we have great shooters on the team. I think Candace was really confident in her shot, and we saw that. She was able to display her versatility. I think she was really able to keep us alive, especially in the second half. It was almost like whenever we needed a bucket, she answered.”
Outside of Parker, only two other Sky players scored in double figures. Copper finished with 13 points followed by Emma Meesseman with 10 points.
Four Sun players scored in double digits. DeWanna Bonner led the Sun with 15 points followed by Alyssa Thomas, Jonquel Jones and Brionna Jones all with 12 points a piece.
“I’m just optimistic that we’re going to force our will in the next game,” Quigley said. “We’re going to be us. We’re going to play our style. We’re going to do it. It’s playoff time, and we’re going to respond. I know we’re going to respond.”
Game 2 is set for Wednesday, Aug 31. Tip time is set for 7 p.m. at Wintrust Arena on ESPN2.