With Elena Delle Donne back in the lineup, the resurgent Chicago Sky could turn out to be one of the most dangerous teams in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
They just have to make sure they get there first.
The visiting Sky have an opportunity to move into a tie for second place with the Washington Mystics on Wednesday when they try for their fifth win in six games since the star's return.
Delle Donne may have returned just in time from a flareup of Lyme Disease that cost her 17 games, as the Sky are looking to earn a playoff berth for the second straight season. Though playing less than she was earlier in the year, Delle Donne has averaged 12.6 points in 17.0 minutes to help Chicago (14-17) to a 4-1 record since coming back July 31.
She had 15 points in 21 minutes off the bench in an 80-69 victory over East-leading Atlanta on Sunday. Chicago is 9-3 when the two-time All-Star scores at least 10.
Reserve Allie Quigley continued her hot stretch with a team-high 17 points Sunday. She was named Eastern Conference player of the week after averaging 18.0 points and going 21 of 30 from the field in her last three contests.
The Sky could also have starting point guard Courtney Vandersloot back after missing the past 16 games with a knee injury.
''We know despite all the people in and out of the lineup, injuries, people coming back, we believe we still have a huge opportunity to have some success,'' coach Pokey Chatman said.
Chatman's club trails Washington (15-16) by one game for second place in the East, but it's also battling Indiana and New York in a tight race for the third and fourth playoff spots with three games remaining.
Following a season-high four-game winning streak July 17-27, the Mystics have dropped three of five. They're looking to get back on track by winning their fourth straight at home after Sunday's 89-81 double-overtime loss at last-place Connecticut.
''It's disappointing,'' said coach Mike Thibault, looking to guide his team to a second straight playoff berth.
Washington will try to avoid its second loss to Chicago this month and take three of four in the season series. The Mystics could be without reserve guard Kara Lawson after she suffered a sprained ankle against the Sun.
Ivory Latta, the club's leading scorer at 12.7 points per game, has averaged 16.6 in her last eight after finishing with 20 on Sunday. The All-Star guard, though, has scored 9.3 per contest while going 7 of 33 from the floor in the three against the Sky.
Delle Donne had 21 points in a 76-65 home win over the Mystics on Aug. 3 after Washington won two meetings when she was sidelined in June and July. Chicago center Sylvia Fowles has totaled 33 points and 28 rebounds in the last two matchups after missing the first because of a hip injury.
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