The Chicago Sky’s (12-20) woes continue as they lost their fifth-consecutive game.
They fell at home 79-73 to the Connecticut Sun (22-10), who clinched a playoff berth with the victory. For Chicago, this loss puts them behind the Los Angeles Sparks (12-18) for the eighth and final seed in the playoffs.
Even though the Sky fought valiantly throughout the game, were even with the Sun in most statistical categories and had some great individual performances, there were notable shortcomings that led them down the path of defeat.
Kahleah Copper led Chicago with 15 points, while Elizabeth Williams had 14, Courtney Williams and Marina Mabrey each contributed 11, and Dana Evans chipped in seven.
Three positives for Chicago
Strong showing on defense
Chicago’s pressure-packed defense effectively contained Connecticut’s offense. The Sky forced the Sun into a handful of shot clock violations and totaled four steals. On the boards, Alanna Smith led the way with eight total rebounds, including five on the defensive end.
Copper said afterwards that, while the defense was good, she noticed some areas that needed to be cleaned up:
I think down the stretch we have to put a little more emphasis on securing rebounds. Imagine working hard, really hard, then you give up an O board and how deflating that is. When you give up that O board it breaks momentum. So it is about trying to put it all together.
Elizabeth Williams’ versatility & Courtney Williams’ direction
The veteran center was instrumental in the Sky winning the points-in-the-paint battle, 34-28. In addition to shooting 60 percent from the field, she also added six assists, expanding her offensive repertoire and stepping outside her traditional role.
Not to be outdone, C. Williams equaled E. Williams with six assists. The two also ran the pick and roll fluently, which enabled them to get some easy points.
E. Williams spoke of how important it was for her, as well as the team as a whole, to score points while sharing the ball:
We want to have a lot of assists in any game that we are playing. It doesn’t really matter where it comes from.
Interim Coach Emre Vatansaver said that, when he took over, he made it a point utilize pick and rolls and is glad to see the two Williamses implement them.
I knew how Elizabeth was before and how she is a very good screen-and-roll player. All players are really good at finding her, especially Courtney. I love to see this. I’m from Europe so we all run the pick and roll and know how to run the pick and roll so it allowed me to utilize those guys.
Decent ball movement and limited turnovers
Chicago’s motion offense was fluid overall. Their movement with and and without the ball was the catalyst behind some crucial baskets, both inside the paint and on the perimeter. As a team, the Sky finished with only two turnovers.
Three problems for Chicago
The Sky were completely outscored in transition, 17-8. No need to elaborate.
Poor shooting from the 3-point line
Chicago shot a meager 14.3 percent from beyond the arc. Copper was 0-for-6, C. Williams was 0-for-2 and Smith was 1-for-5, while Mabrey and Evans were both 1-for-3.
Through the first twenty minutes of play, there was a level of consistency at both ends of the floor for Chicago. They came out enthused, energized and enthralled, playing like they needed to prove something. The dynamic shifted in the third quarter, when the Sun outscored them 21-16 and, at one point, led by as many as 13. Even with a brief Chicago run in the final 26 seconds, it was too little too late.
Chicago is sitting on the playoff bubble. But if they don’t play a full 40 minutes, they risk dropping a sixth-straight game, and that bubble will burst.
The Sky will take on the Seattle Storm (9-22) on Tuesday, Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. CST.