We’ve heard of big threes and big fours. Do the Chicago Sky have a big five?
Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot, Kahleah Copper, Allie Quigley and Diamond DeShields. Certainly that’s a big three with Parker, Vandersloot and Copper. And on a good day for Quigley and DeShields, maybe it is a big five.
Of course, the Sky's starting five features Azurá Stevens in place of DeShields, leaving the team with a star player on the bench. But, unlike the starters, Chicago’s bench had some question marks before its phenomenal fourth-quarter performance in Game 3 of the Finals.
In Game 1, Stefanie Dolson score 14 points off the bench for the Sky, but the rest of the team’s bench was held scoreless. In Game 2, a loss for Chicago, the bench was held to 10 points with five coming from Dolson, three coming from rookie point guard Dana Evans and two coming from an under-utilized DeShields.
Finally, in Game 3, the Sky bench came alive. DeShields led the way with 11 points, good for third on the team overall. It is important to note, however, that most of DeShield’s damage came late when Phoenix had very little chance of coming back. Still, very little chance when Diana Taurasi is on you team is actually a pretty good chance and DeShields made sure that Sky fans could relax as the game wound down.
DeShields is capable of closing out what Copper started.— Swish Appeal (@SwishAppeal) October 16, 2021
Diamond DeShields on what was different in her approach tonight: “It’s the finals...I prepared. My teammates pick me up every day. I felt good coming into tonight that I was gonna focus on my defense and everything else is extra.” #WNBAFinals— Dani Bar-Lavi (@dblfluidity) October 16, 2021
Evans added nine points to the bench scoring effort with three triples in the final 1:17 of the contest. Admittedly, the Sky’s fourth quarter would not have been as impressive if it hadn’t been for those threes, which came when, as ESPN’s Ryan Ruocco would say, it was “all cosmetic.” But it is still a good sign for the Sky that Evans buried some long range shots to get her confidence up. It was her first career game with more than two made threes.
Lexie Brown, a talented guard who averaged 7.6 points per game for the Minnesota Lynx in 2019, was good for five points, including a three, off the Sky bench in Game 3. It’s a bit mysterious why Brown hasn’t gotten more playing time this season and she is certainly a solid weapon.
Then there’s Ruthy Hebard (four points in Game 3), who played 20-plus minutes in eight straight games early in the regular season, including three games with 30-plus and three double-doubles. Hebard’s role then lessened when Parker returned from injury, but she is a capable second-year power forward who was a phenomenal inside scorer in college.
Dolson added two points and Astou Ndour-Fall had one in Game 3, ensuring that every Sky player scored. Dolson won a gold medal in 3x3 at the Tokyo Olympics this past summer and is looking to add to her trophy case. Ndour-Fall had a bit of a bounce-back season this year, averaging 6.6 points per game in 17.1 minutes after averaging 3.5 in 11.6 last year for the Dallas Wings.
Just like with the Mercury, the Sky probably want their fate in the hands of their stars. However, the bench could play a critical role if Game 4 is close. Will their 32-point performance in Game 3 give them the momentum needed for them to do their job and help close out the Finals?
Fun Fact: Dana Evans scored more points in 77 seconds last night than Diana Taurasi and Sophie Cunningham scored combined …— Owen Pence (@OwenPence) October 16, 2021