clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Sky Update: Are the clouds beginning to part, giving Chicago a clear path to the playoffs?

With a huge win over the Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday, the Chicago Sky’s chance for a fifth-straight trip to the postseason remains alive.

Chicago Sky v Los Angeles Sparks
Elizabeth Williams skies for the rebound during Chicago’s big win in Los Angeles.
Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Just when it seemed like things were over, the Chicago Sky (15-21) were given a lifeline that has, at least for now, kept their hopes for a spot in the playoffs alive. They have won three out of their last four games, with their most recent being the most significant of them all.

On Tuesday, in what was a back-and-forth battle with the Los Angeles Sparks, Chicago managed to eke by with a 76-75 victory, giving the Sky a 3-1 series win over the Sparks this season.

A team effort in LA

Kahleah Copper did what she does best once again, carrying the team on her shoulders and leading by example. She finished the game with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists, while shooting 10-for-22 from the field.

She simply played with the tenacious drive that has come to define her.

Morgan Bertsch, filling in for the injured Alanna Smith, shot the highest percentage from the field at 55.6 percent. She also was 66.7 percent from the 3-point line to finish with 12 points. Shooting 40 percent from downtown, Marina Mabrey finished with 14 points and excelled at playmaking with six assists.

The dynamic Williams tandem was on full display. Elizabeth Williams was solid in the paint and finished with eight points, five blocks and nine rebounds. Courtney added seven points, a team-high seven assists, and equaled Elizabeth with nine rebounds. Dana Evans came off the bench and contributed seven points of her own, including a buzzer beater to end the third quarter.

Much of the core group stepped up and the notable bench players also did their part to match an LA team that is very similar to Chicago in terms of style and circumstance. Both teams have had to deal with a cycle of ups and downs and have been plagued by injuries to some key talent.

The push for the playoffs

Now the Sky can breathe a little as they know that they still have a chance for the playoffs. However, they have an uphill battle in the four games they have left. The recurring theme for each of their upcoming opponents is their resolve.

On Sunday, Chicago will hit the road to play against the surging New York Liberty, who have beaten the Sky in two out of three games. But Chicago has been competitive against the super team, with their worst lost to New York by 16 points on August 11. The Sky also came back from 19 points down to beat the Liberty on June 4. If anything, Chicago should have the desire to prove something and give New York a run for their money.

Next Tuesday, the Sky are back in the heartland to take on the Indiana Fever, a franchise that seemed destined to bow out early but have experienced a resurgence as of late with three consecutive wins. The Sky have won two out of three against the Fever, with their greatest margin of victory coming on June 6 when they won 108-103 in overtime. In the other two contests, they won by two and lost by two. While the Sky have experience in their favor, the Fever have shown that they are not going out without a fight.

Minnesota Lynx v Chicago Sky
Attention to every detail will be crucial as the Sky aim to maintain their playoff hopes.
Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

Then, the Sky will be back at home next Friday to take on the Minnesota Lynx, a team that is currently the No. 7 seed in the playoff standings. This season, Chicago is 1-1 against Minnesota. In their 88-79 loss on August 8, the Sky were even with the Lynx in almost every category, but Chicago shot only 42.1 percent from the field. The Sky also weren’t able to finish the game when it seemed like they were in control. This will be a huge test for them in terms of consistency.

Finally, Chicago closes the regular season out on the road on September 10 against their budding East Coast rivals, the super-charged Connecticut Sun, who have already clinched a playoff spot. The Sky have lost all three matchups, with two of the three by double digits. In their 79-73 loss on August 20, Chicago was on par with Connecticut in most statistical categories, with the exception of fastbreak points (17-8). Next to New York, this arguably will be Chicago’s toughest opponent; the same eagerness to show what they truly are made of will have to emerge.

Simply put, every game is a must win for the Sky. The Lynx, Mystics, Dream and Sparks also are gunning for the remaining playoff spots. Currently, the Sparks hold onto the No. 8 spot, with the Sky at No. 9. If the Sky win at least two out of their next four games, which would include dethroning the Lynx, and if the Sparks lose any of their next four games, the Sky will have a chance to make the playoffs for the fifth-straight season.

The drive for five starts now.