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Sky, Sun brace for extended semifinal series

Aug 23, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA;  Chicago Sky forward Candace Parker (3) and New York Liberty forward Natasha Howard (6) at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

After getting pushed to the limit in the first round by heavy underdogs, the second-seeded Chicago Sky and third-seeded Connecticut Sun are expecting another long series when their WNBA semifinal clash starts Sunday night in Chicago.

Both had to win deciding third games on the road. The defending champion Sky stopped New York 90-72 Tuesday night in Brooklyn with a 16-0 fourth quarter run after their lead was sliced to three, while Connecticut used defense and rebounding to stop Dallas 73-58 Wednesday night in Arlington, Texas.

The Sun made just 35.5 percent of their shots, but earned a 40-31 advantage on the glass and forced 19 turnovers to make up for an inefficient offense. Next on their list is getting some revenge on the defending league champs.

Chicago toppled Connecticut in last year’s semifinals 3-1 after the Sun entered with the top overall seed, and the Sky won all four matchups this year.

“We still have a bitter taste in our mouths from last year,” Connecticut forward Alyssa Thomas said.

The Sky have kept the Sun from rinsing that bitter taste, even when short-handed. They won an overtime game without star Candace Parker and another one with coach James Wade out with COVID-19.

One major reason Chicago has cracked the code on Connecticut is its ball movement and versatility on offense. The Sun are a good defensive team, but the Sky have hit 55.5 percent from the field against them, including an impressive 41.9 percent on 3-pointers.

And that happened despite Chicago’s propensity for turnovers. It averaged more than 18 against Connecticut, but it cut that number down to 9.7 in the New York series. That helped them win the series’ final two games by a combined 56 points.

“We saw a flash of the team we want to be consistently,” Sky leading scorer Kahleah Copper said. “With the experience we have, what we felt in those moments, that’s the team we want to be.”

Game 2 of the best-of-five series is Wednesday in Chicago.

–Field Level Media