Sky-Mystics Preview

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Needing a strong final push to be in contention for a bye into the second round of the playoffs, the Chicago Sky look to start that final four-game run on a positive note Friday night versus the Washington Mystics.

A double bye to the semifinals may be beyond Chicago (11-7), which trailed second-place Los Angeles by 2 1/2 games entering play Thursday night. The Sky, though, do face the Sparks on Sunday before a favorable closing stretch with contests against Atlanta and Dallas.

James Wade's team, however, failed to help itself Wednesday night versus Minnesota, losing 86-83 to fall 1 1/2 games behind the Lynx for fourth. Also more damagingly, Chicago was swept in the head-to-head series and could wind up being relegated to the first round of the postseason for the second straight year.

Chicago had clinched a playoff spot Tuesday night when Indiana lost, and after a tumultuous week in which Diamond DeShields and Azura Stevens left the wubble and Jantel Lavender was dealt, the last week-plus of the season may be the last chance for the Sky to right themselves.

"It was a lot," center Stephanie Dolson told the Chicago Sun-Times. "One thing we all knew this season was going to do to us was keep us on our toes, so I think we all handled it pretty well. ... Fortunately, it's our job to kind of move on and focus on the next day and what's our task, and I think everybody did it well. ... We're just ready to keep moving."

Through the ups and downs, Courtney Vandersloot's running of the offense remains constant. She followed up her record-setting, 18-assist performance Monday with another 12 versus the Lynx and is on pace to better her single-season league assist mark for the fourth straight year. This time she is also garnering MVP support since her shooting is complementing her playmaking, averaging a career-best 13.2 points while shooting 38.3 percent from 3-point range.

"I can remember seven, eight years ago, her just not feeling like the leader that everybody saw her to be," wife and teammate Allie Quigley told ESPN about Vandersloot. "But I feel like just trusting everyone and trusting herself, and doing that work off the court really helped her finally believe in herself. And I think it's just all coming together."

As Chicago begins its push for the postseason, time is running out on Washington (4-12) to join the Sky. The defending WNBA champions entered Thursday 1 1/2 games behind Dallas for the eighth and final playoff spot, and the Mystics' losing streak hit five games after a 71-64 defeat to Seattle on Wednesday night.

While the effort was better than Sunday, it was still the 12th loss in 13 games. It also left a challenging road over the final six games to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2016, especially with three already playoff-bound.

"We had a discussion after the game the other night," coach and general manager Mike Thibault told The Washington Post. "The response will be in how we play these last seven games. My basic question to them the other night was, 'You can decide whether you want to give up or you want to play and see what happens.'"

Vandersloot had eight points and eight assists in the first meeting, but it was her late steal that preserved an 88-86 win for the Sky on Aug. 1. Gabby Williams and Cheyenne Parker scored 16 points apiece for Chicago, with Parker hitting the go-ahead basket with 5.9 seconds to play.