Win or lose, this is it for the Chicago Sky as they take on Atlanta in Phillips Arena.
The Chicago Sky had a golden opportunity to finish off the Atlanta Dream in the first round of the WNBA Eastern Conference semifinals Sunday night. With a noisy home crowd of nearly 5,000 at the Allstate Arena, and their first-ever playoff win under their belts Friday night, the time seemed right for a series sweep of the best-of-three series.
If only Angel McCoughtry hadn’t delivered a nearly virtuoso performance of her own. Guarding Elena Delle Donne and shooting in and out of the paint, it was as if she was willing the Dream back to life. Despite four Sky players finishing in double-digits, the Sky were unable to overcome McCoughtry’s 39-point performance, and fell 92-83 in Game 2.
With the Dream’s victory, the series stands tied 1-1 in the best-of-three series.
I asked Sky Coach Pokey Chatman what it would take to beat Atlanta. She responded in the press conference:
“There are three areas of play that we understand we have to have and limit Atlanta in, if we want to be successful. We were 0-for-3 in those areas. First, is their transition game. They scored 31 points. Second, they scored 22 points off of our 15 turnovers. Third area was on the boards. Against a team that’s hungry and trying to stay alive you can’t have that.”
Delle Donne led the Sky with 22 points and Allie Quigley’s 20 points off the bench. Epiphanny Prince added 19 points while Sylvia Fowles finished with 14 points and six rebounds.
In the second quarter the lead changed multiple times but neither squad was able to build real momentum. Delle Donne teamed up with guard Allie Quigley to score Chicago’s final nine points of the half as the Sky trailed 44-43 at the half.
The Dream came out after halftime with renewed energy. Led by McCoughtry and Jasmine Thomas, Atlanta pushed their halftime lead to nine, 60-51, by the midpoint of the third quarter. The fast-paced attack of the Dream forced the Sky into several difficult shots, and McCoughtry had another double-digit quarter, scoring 14 points in the third to lead Atlanta to a 68-61 edge at the end of the third.
Sky guard Allie Quigley scored the first four points of the final quarter to cut the Dream’s lead to three, 68-65, but Atlanta answered back with a 10-1 run, pushing their lead back to double digits. The Sky was unable to get any closer than six the rest of the way and fell to Atlanta 92-83.
Angel McCoughtry led the Dream with 39 points while the Sky were paced by 22 points from Elena Delle Donne, 20 points from Allie Quigley and 19 points from Epiphanny Prince. Delle Donne wasn’t giving up, though.
“We were able to get that first win on the road so we’ll have to dig down deep and get a second win on the road. It’s not like this team hasn’t faced adversity before.”
Elena Delle Donne, after Sunday’s game
The game will be shown live on NBA TV Tuesday night, beginning at 6:30 p.m. CT.
The winner of the Eastern Conference Semifinals will face the Indiana Fever in the WNBA Eastern Conference Finals.