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Sky fall to Dream, highlighting 2 big problem areas for a young team

CHICAGO - Heading into Saturday, the Chicago Sky had successfully hit two of their biggest problem areas.

The Atlanta Dream had the tools and the talent to find and pick on both of those areas in an 89-80 Dream win over the Sky at Wintrust Arena on Saturday evening.

It's easier to start with the positives: Angel Reese had a double, Kamilla Cardoso shined in her first-career start and Dana Evans commanded the offense with 13 points of her own.

Reese, Cardoso and Evans all tied for the team high with 13 points. The team sees this as a learning opportunity, and Reese said the players need to take the first step by taking an introspective look inward.

"You can't come into the game and think that's when gametime is," Reese said. "I think we're going to come together collectively and change a couple things internally. It's not the coaches, it's us."

Sky head coach Teresa Weatherspoon said she sees a trait she wants to see.

"Accountability," Weatherspoon said. "That's it."

However, it was a blowout in the first half before the Sky found a way to claw back. They had a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter, but Atlanta put the game to rest when the Sky couldn't connect on a transition pass with 40 seconds remaining.

It was an example of the work the Sky have to do as they fell to 4-6 on the season.

Right now, the Sky are having a perimeter issue.

Defensively, they're fine. They play the passing lanes well and consistently force turnovers. However, on offense, they're struggling.

Aside from Marina Mabrey and Evans, the Sky don't have a consistent threat from the perimeter. Mabrey and Evans can both shoot the ball well, but they've both struggling from 3-point range recently.

That won't be the case for the entire season, but it's a reason why the Sky struggled Saturday. As a team, the Sky shot 3 of 11 from 3-point range.

Heading into the fourth quarter, Chicago made one of its seven 3-point attempts. That was Evans. On Saturday, that issue was never greater, because the Dream matched the Sky in the post.

With Cardoso, Reese and Harrison in the front court, combined with DeShields, Evans and Chennedy Carter, the Sky have outscored most of their opponents in the post this season.

That wasn't the case against Atlanta, who rode Cheyenne Parker-Tyus, Tina Charles and Alisha Gray right into the Sky. They tied the Sky in paint points; both teams scored 36 points in the post, but the Dream also hit six 3-pointers.

Without a consistent threat from 3-point range, the Sky were one dimensional. That allowed the Dream to key in on the Sky's second-biggest weakness: their youth.

Near the end of the third, Reese was without a personal foul. She finished the third quarter with three. Cardoso had four.

Rookies in the WNBA often struggle with foul trouble. It's a part of the learning curve. A'ja Wilson had the same issue in 2018 and overcame it.

That issue struck Cardoso and Reese Saturday in the most in-opportune time. Cardoso picked up her fifth foul on an offensive foul where she extended her arm while trying to make separation in the post.

Those kinds of fouls are sometimes allowed to slide at the college level, but in the WNBA those kinds of calls don't slide.

Getting Cardoso and Reese in foul trouble also takes away from some aggressiveness on both ends of the floor.

Still, aside from all that, it was a one-possession game in the fourth quarter.

It was 78-75 after Lindsay Allen drove to the hoop, scored, drew a foul and sank her free throw with five minutes left. The Sky couldn't close the gap further after that.

With 2:44 left, the Sky called timeout. The Dream had extended their lead to 84-77. They didn't let the Sky have a lane to the basket by clogging the lane, and the Sky couldn't set up a good look from 3-point range.

From there, the Dream calmly forced fouls and pulled away at the free throw line.

Weatherspoon noted the slow start, where the Sky trailed 27-10 at one point in the first half, is one of the aspects that has to change first. Slow starts have replaced dismal third quarters as habitual problems.

"We have to figure it all out," Weatherspoon said. "Not just this one, the last few games."

The Sky are just one week into June. Sitting at 4-6 is far from the worst case scenario, but Weatherspoon wants to correct these issues before one loss becomes a number far beyond that.

"We have to get there quickly," Weatherspoon said.