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Sky look for consistency with Dream up next

May 24, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot (22) brings the ball up court against the Indiana Fever during the first half at Wintrust Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The defending WNBA champion Chicago Sky acknowledge they aren’t at their best yet.

But they are still 9-4 and riding a stretch of four wins in five games going into Friday night’s home game against the Atlanta Dream.

Chicago is still seeking consistency on defense to go along with a potent offense. After a win in Connecticut where it limited Jonquel Jones to seven points, the Sky gave up 11 3-pointers on Sunday in New York.

But Chicago outscored the Liberty 88-86 when Courtney Vandersloot capped a 20-point, 10-assist performance by sinking a 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds left.

That game aside, forward Azura Stevens knows that if the Sky are to repeat as champs, they’ll have to win with defense instead of outgunning foes.

“Defense isn’t a bunch of strategy; it’s just heart,” she said. “You have to want to stop your player and the other team. Each player that steps onto the floor feels like, ‘I need to stop my man and help my teammates.’ We won last year because of our defense, not because of anything else.”

It was defense that helped Chicago win its first meeting with Atlanta on June 3. The Sky held the Dream to 34.7 percent shooting from the field and permitted just five points over the final 7:45 of a come-from-behind 73-65 victory in College Park, Ga.

That game started the first poor stretch of the season for Atlanta (7-7). It has dropped four of the last five games, including three straight. The Dream are coming off a 105-92 defeat Wednesday night at Connecticut, getting shredded on the defensive end.

Atlanta allowed the Sun to hit nearly 52 percent from the field, including 14 of 26 from 3-point range. The Sun racked up 30 assists and committed just 11 turnovers, canceling out a strong offensive showing from the Dream.

“We’ll see glimpses of great defense, but if we can just do that on a consistent basis, teams will know what they’re going against every single night,” forward Monique Billings said earlier this week.

Rookie Rhyne Howard leads Atlanta in scoring at 16.3 points per game, although her shooting percentage has dropped to 39.9 percent from the field.

–Field Level Media