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Chicago Sky get defensive heading into playoffs

The Chicago Sky enter the playoffs with home court in the first round, and with the league's leader scorer and MVP-frontrunner, Elena Delle Donne. While the offense gets a lot of the attention, the Sky know to succeed in the playoffs they will have to defend at an elite level.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Uncasville, CT -- The Chicago Sky enter the playoffs as the second seed in the Eastern Conference, winners of six of their last eight regular season games. The two losses during that stretch came against the Connecticut Sun, who beat the Sky on the final day of the regular season, 86-75.

MVP frontrunner Elena Delle Donne poured in 28 points, 27 of which came in the first three-quarters. Delle Donne is now the ninth different player to lead the league in scoring, averaging 23.2 points per game this season. Offense, though, is not what everyone was talking about as Chicago looks ahead to the playoffs.

"We need to play defense," Sky Head Coach Pokey Chapman said. "You can be the number one scoring team in the league, and you might get the perfect shot for the perfect player who has the best shooting percentage, (Elena) Delle Donne, (Allie) Quigley, it just might not go in. So we have to man up, we have to play some defense, and we have to do the dirty work. If we do not do those things, we will be out of the playoffs like that."

Chicago defense swarmed the Sun at times, but they struggled to stop Kelsey Bone, who led her team to the win with a career-high 31 points.

"She is such a powerful presence inside," Delle Donne said. "You can never just guard her with one person because if you do she is going to make you pay for it. I do not think we did a good enough job helping off of her, because she is not a player you can guard one on one."

The Sky know the playoffs are basically like a new season. Chicago's defense is what they know they have to focus on if they want to be successful.

"If a player is going off, like Bone, for example, we need to pay more attention to her," Delle Donne said. "Our defense is something we need to clean up quickly. If our defense is strong, we're great. If it's weak, we're not so good."

Luckily for Chicago, their opponent in the first round of the playoffs will not be the Sun, who are one of just three teams that have a winning record against the Sky in the regular season. The other two: the Liberty and the Los Angeles Sparks, who are both in the playoffs.

The Sky will have home court against the Indiana Fever, and won all four regular season matchups against the Fever. While Chicago has had recent success against their first round opponent, they know none of that matters once the playoffs start.

"We need to realize this is a fresh season, whatever happened during the regular season does not matter, just like last year when we were the four seed, and we made it to the Finals," Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot said. "We need to regroup and make sure we are playing better defensively. We have to be playing at our best starting now."