The Chicago Sky were hoping the addition of Swin Cash would finally push them into the playoffs, but her subpar season is one reason why the Sky are again fighting for the Eastern Conference’s final postseason berth.
The veteran forward and three-time WNBA champion, though, is coming off her best performance of 2012 and will try to duplicate that during a formidable matchup with the Minnesota Lynx - winners of 11 in a row - on Tuesday night.
Chicago (11-17) has never reached the playoffs since joining the league in 2006 and finds itself trailing New York by one-half game for fourth place in the East. The Sky dropped out of that spot after an 82-77 loss at Connecticut and the Liberty’s 73-71 win over Los Angeles on Sunday.
“We just have to go into every game like we just have to win, it is what is,” said Cash, acquired from Seattle in January. “It is going to be a fight to the end and it is tough to swallow games like this because we were right there, so close, but we have to work through it, nobody else is going to come bail us out.”
Cash provided season highs of 21 points and 15 rebounds for her first double-double of the year. The U.S. Olympian is averaging 10.7 points - her fewest since 2006 - and 5.6 rebounds, her fewest in four seasons.
The Sky could use another strong performance from their forward against the Lynx (24-4), who have produced their longest single-season win streak. Minnesota earned a 13th consecutive regular-season victory with its league-record 10-0 start to this season.
After matching the largest comeback in WNBA history by rallying from 25 points down in Friday’s 97-93 double-overtime win over Atlanta, the Lynx didn’t need such magic two days later in San Antonio. Maya Moore had 18 points, 12 rebounds and six assists while leading her team to an 81-62 victory.
Minnesota also got 22 points from its reserves to make up for the absence of leading scorer Seimone Augustus, who sat out with a sprained right foot.
“Our bench takes a lot of pride in what they do,” Moore said. “When they come in, we want the level of intensity not just to stay the same, but raise it.”
Augustus’ status is questionable for this game and Sylvia Fowles’ is unknown for Chicago. The All-Star center, second in the WNBA with 10.4 rebounds per contest, missed Sunday’s game with a strained calf.
If Fowles has to sit out again, Chicago could have a difficult time snapping its four-game skid in the series. She had 22 points and 13 rebounds in Minnesota on June 23, when Lindsay Whalen scored 25 to lead the Lynx to a 79-67 win.
The Lynx, who have already wrapped up the top seed in the West, have prevailed in each of their last two visits to Allstate Arena but only by a combined eight points.