Rosemont, IL – As the season comes to a close; the Chicago Sky are depending on their historically great offense to guide them through the playoffs.
Tonight, the Sky jumped out to an early lead over the third-place New York Liberty en route to a 92-68 win.
“We wanted to maintain our pace offensively and take care of the basketball,” head coach Pokey Chatman said. “I thought that each quarter we were able to do that. That stat I really like, is the 29 assists on 39 made field goals. That’s players sharing the basketball, and that’s what we’re going to need.”
New York won both contests earlier in the season, by a combined four points, but Chicago got its revenge and gained some valuable momentum before their regular season finale.
Since the arrival of franchise player Elena Delle Donne in the 2013 draft, the Sky have been a dominant offensive team.
Chicago currently leads the WNBA in points per game and offensive rating. Last season, they finished first in both categories.
Over the past two seasons, Chicago has arguably been the WNBA’s most dominant offense.
Chatman’s squad was able to build a 22-point lead midway through the fourth quarter over the Liberty.
Since Delle Donne’s injury, they haven’t faltered on offense – Chicago is now 3-2 without Delle Donne -- and will continue to rely on their offensive style to carry them through the playoffs.
Scoring comes naturally to great players like Cappie Pondexter, but its role players such as Jamierra Faulkner that help keep the Sky afloat when the bench checks in.
“[Jamierra] does a great job for us off the bench. She’s a dynamic player that can do-it-all and that’s the toughest to guard,” point guard Courtney Vandersloot said.
Pondexter is a natural on offense and is a threat to score on every play. Pondexter is a two-guard though, and at times relies on Vandersloot to get the offense into its sets.
Vandersloot is one of the most versatile guards in the WNBA.
She excels at creating open looks for her teammates, her passes are a thing of beauty, and she can shoot from anywhere on the court; yet its Faulkner that always pushes the pace when she enters the game.
“To have two point guards that on any given day can have the most impactful game and sometimes play them together is a different look,” Chatman said. “When you see the open opportunities [on offense], it’s because [Vandersloot] and [Jamierra] are playing at a tremendous pace and creating.”
Faulkner is small in stature, but is a blur on offense. She can create on the fastbreak at will and utilizes her handles to confuse defenders regularly.
Faulkner finished the game with five points, 11 assists, four steals and four rebounds.
Vandersloot finished the game with nine points and seven assists.
Delle Donne sets the tone for the rest of the team by carrying the scoring load most nights; however, the reigning MVP will not play for the foreseeable future, and the Chicago Sky are quietly excelling without her.
Whether Chicago can advance past the first round and whether they can maintain their dominant offense are questions that will soon be answered.
First, though, comes the Sky’s season finale against the Seattle Storm on Sunday.