The Chicago Sky have never qualified for the postseason, but that drought has a good chance of coming to an end with rookie Elena Delle Donne leading the way.
She'll look to help guide Chicago to a fifth win in six tries and 10th victory in its last 11 meetings with the visiting Washington Mystics on Wednesday afternoon.
Chicago's first seven WNBA seasons each ended with a sub.-500 record and without a playoff berth. After a third straight 14-20 campaign in 2012 it was afforded the opportunity to draft Delle Donne with the No. 2 overall pick, and she has been a key cog in the team's turnaround.
The Sky (8-4) are in second place in the Eastern Conference and coming off a 93-64 win over New York on Sunday, as Delle Donne scored a game-high 20 points.
''That was the prize,'' coach Pokey Chatman said of drafting the 6-foot-5 star out of Delaware. ''That was the blessing in disguise with the disappointment. Get a player like Delle Donne and also have that sour taste in your mouth from returning players. It worked out.''
Delle Donne is among the league leaders in scoring, averaging 18.9 points, and one of the leading vote-getters for the July 27 All-Star Game.
''Making the playoffs is always a goal,'' said Epiphanny Prince, who added 18 points Sunday. ''Having Elena now gives us another big offensive threat.''
Delle Donne hasn't been concerned with individual accolades and has remained focused on helping Chicago make its first playoff appearance.
Four players scored in double figures against the Liberty, as Swin Cash finished with 12 points and Sylvia Fowles scored 10 in limited minutes after missing a 69-60 loss to Seattle on July 2 with a sprained right ankle.
"We showed this team can be incredible when we're all on, and (we) have to figure out how to do that all the time,'' Delle Donne said.
The Sky have a solid recent history against the Mystics and won three of four meetings last season. Fowles averaged 18.3 points and 14.7 rebounds in the three games she played.
Washington (6-6) is a much different team this year under first-year coach Mike Thibault, though, having exceeded last season's win total with Saturday's 62-59 win over Seattle.
The victory gave Thibault a WNBA-record 212 career victories, surpassing former Houston Comets coach Van Chancellor.
"I plan on being around hopefully to see 300 wins or 400 wins," Thibault said.
The Mystics got 12 points from Crystal Langhorne and 11 from Ivory Latta as the team overcame shooting a season-worst 32.7 percent. They have won two straight after a five-game losing streak largely because of defense, though, also beating Tulsa 84-61 on June 30.
Washington allowed an average of 90.4 points during its skid.
''It shows that we can dig down deep and play great defense even when you're not scoring,'' Langhorne said. ''For a lot of teams when you don't score, you don't play defense either.''
The Mystics may have a tough time slowing down Chicago, which is averaging 83.5 points its last four games.
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