"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us..."
Charles Dickens, "A Tale of Two Cities"
Throughout the best and worst of the Chicago Sky's (13-19) season, there is but one goal; making the playoffs.
They've achieved some stunning victories and some devastating losses. The highs and lows are Dickensian as faithful fans await the team's fate in the final two games in the regular WNBA season.
It's all on the line at the Allstate Arena on Thursday night as the Sky take on the Atlanta Dream. It's all up to the tag team of Sylvia Fowles, Swin Cash, Courtney Vandersloot, and most of all, Ephiphanny Prince, their best clutch player ever.
Let's count the best and worst of times this season for the Sky:
- The Sky recorded their best-ever start of 7-3 and led the Eastern Conference briefly for the first time ever before an eight-game losing streak set them back to fourth in conference, battling for the final playoff spot.
- A week ago, they toppled the current World Champion Minnesota Lynx at the Allstate Arena.
- They defeated Candace Parker and the LA Sparks, battling the Lynx for the top spot in the Western Conference, in a nailbiter at home, then lost to the Sparks on the West Coast.
- They followed the Sparks victory at home with a win over their nemesis, the New York Liberty, in New York.
- On Sunday, the Sky throttled Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury 86-55, overpowering a team (7-25) that has battled injuries and struggled most of this season.
- It was the Sky's first road win over the Mercury, and their 31 point margin of victory was the largest in team history.
- They followed the Phoenix victory with their toughest loss, coming back from as much as 28 down in Tuesday night's 75-60 to the Seattle Storm.
- The Sky shot 32% from the floor, their lowest point percentage ever.
The Sky remain one game back behind New York (14-19) in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Today, the Sky is one loss or one New York Liberty win away from being eliminated from playoff contention.
Lucky for the Sky, the Liberty also lost last night, to the San Antonio Silver Stars, 77-66.
Sky Coach Pokey Chatman was philosophical about the Storm, "Opportunity lost. We don’t have a lot of time to wallow in it. We have a very good Atlanta team waiting for us, and that’s just the nature of our profession. Of course you look at the tactical and basketball fundamental things – that’ll be the easiest part to do. But to make them understand you have an hour to deal with this and be sick about it, then use some of that raw emotion and channel it into something positive."
The Atlanta Dream clinched its fourth consecutive playoff berth on September 14. The Sky's loss late last Thursday night in Los Angeles, on the heels of the Dream’s 77-61 victory over Seattle Tuesday, guaranteed Atlanta a playoff spot. It's their fourth consecutive year making the playoffs. Last night, they choked off the Washington Mystics, 98-63
The Sky will have two more chances in the regular season to clinch the fourth and final spot in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. When they tip off at Allstate Arena on Thursday, September 20, at 7:00 pm, they will wear the pink uniforms on Breast Health Awareness Night benefitting Bright Pink.
They also have to hope for a miracle from the Liberty, who have every reason to believe they will win at least one of their home and home games left against the pathetic Tulsa Shock (8-23).
Cash, the former WNBA champ and Olympic gold medal winner was accurate in her assessment of the final two games:
"We don’t have a lot of time," she said. "We need to win every game and see what happens. It’s tough."
The Sky play their final home game on Saturday night, against the Washington Mystics.