The Connecticut Sun overcame the Chicago Sky in Game 1 of the WNBA Semifinals on Sunday night. The Sky swept the Sun in the 2022 regular season. However, all games were victories with single-digit margins, this game included. This low-scoring affair saw the Sky looking rather unprepared for Connecticut’s defense. Plenty of defensive stops forced shot clock violations, robbing the Sky of valuable possessions.
The Sky’s 63 points were the fewest scored in the 2022 season. The Sky’s 35.3% field goal shooting was Chicago’s lowest percentage in a playoff game since 2014. With shots not falling, there was also a lack of offensive boards for the Sky (7), and in response, there were nearly twice as many for the Sun (12).
“We were surprised by the hedging,” Azurá Stevens told reporters in a post-game conference. I don’t think we were prepared for that.”
There were 11 lead changes throughout the contest, culminating in a telltale fourth quarter. The Sky led by one with 1:54 left in the game after Emma Meesseman sunk a three. Moments later, Candace Parker missed a three which led to DeWanna Bonner hitting a basket to answer.
“I think we dribbled a little too much, and that sort of put it in their favor because they were trapping a lot,” Stevens said of the Sun’s defense. “They were getting their hands on a lot of balls, and the best way to combat that is just to move [the ball].”
The Sun took a similar page from the Las Vegas Aces playbook, attempting to keep the Sky out of the paint which forced them to rely on threes with poor looks. Allie Quigley went 0 for 5 from three, while the entire team went 8-30.
“I say this in the nicest way possible, but we have to make this series messy,” Connecticut head coach Curt Miller told reporters. “We’re going to be good around the basket. We’re going to rebound. We’re going to defend our tails off. We have to make it messy, and we got the game messy tonight, which was our advantage.”
Messy was a good descriptor. In the fourth quarter, a fight over the ball between Kahleah Copper and Courtney Williams resulted in a double technical. Neither Copper nor Williams refused to let go of the ball; Williams eventually conceded.
Messiness aside, Candace Parker’s historical performance should not go overshadowed. Parker became the first player in WNBA history to have at least 15 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and five blocks in a playoff game. She fell one steal short of recording the second 5×5 game in league history, something she achieved during her rookie season in 2008.
It’s a known fact that the Sky respond well when their collective backs are against the wall. Just last week, the Sky bounced back after a Game 1 loss to the New York Liberty. The Sky will have another chance to get the dub on Wednesday night for Game 2 at Wintrust Arena. Tip-off is at 7PM CT, and the game will air on ESPN2.
As is always the case; Sky in four.