The Chicago Sky climbed the WNBA Playoffs ladder with relative ease, winning their two single-elimination games by double-digit margins to reach the semifinals. The Sky now face a much tougher challenge in their best-of-five series against the No. 1 seeded Connecticut Sun.
The Sun topped the WNBA with a 26-6 regular-season record, earning themselves a bye into the semifinal round of the WNBA Playoffs.
Sky flying high after elimination matchups
Meanwhile, Chicago finished the year with a .500, 16-16 mark. The Sun have looked anything but average in the playoffs, first beating the Dallas Wings at home, then traveling to Minnesota and beating the Lynx 89-76 on the road.
“We have talented players,” Sky coach James Wade told the Chicago Sun-Times. “And maybe they go somewhere else and can do more, but they have bought in to everybody stepping up for their moment.”
Connecticut has won 14 straight games, with their only recent loss coming in the Commissioner’s Cup final, which didn’t count towards their regular-season record. The Sun are in the midst of their second, mini-dynastic run, the first of which came in back-to-back WNBA Finals appearances in 2004 and 2005.
The Sun reached the WNBA Finals again in 2019, and lost a five-game series to the Las Vegas Aces in the semifinals last year. The team has never managed to go all the way and win the title. It came close in 2019 when it pushed the Washington Mystics to five games before falling short.
Jones picks up WNBA MVP honors
Connecticut also dominated the WNBA’s postseason awards. Forward Jonquel Jones won the MVP title in an almost unanimous vote, picking up 48 of a possible 49 first-place nods. Jones scored 19.4 points per game while also averaging 11.2 rebounds for the Sun.
“She became more of a rim protector, and has established herself for a long time now as one of the premier rebounding players in the world,” Connecticut head coach Curt Miller said of Jones to reporters. “The offense has been written about a lot. She has incredible touch and the ability to play with her back to the basket. But what makes her special is her playing away from the basket and her ability to shoot the 3.”
Brionna Jones won WNBA’s Most Improved Player, while Miller took home Coach of the Year. Four Connecticut players landed on the first or second all-defensive teams.
In other words, Connecticut will enjoy a clear talent advantage in the semifinals. The Sun enjoyed the top defensive rating in the WNBA this year, while they were second on offense. Oddsmakers see Connecticut as the clear favorite in the upcoming series, with FanDuel Sportsbook listing the Sun as a -650 pick over the Sky (+440).
The series begins on Tuesday night with Game 1 in Connecticut. The Sun open as 7.5-point favorites in Game 1. Connecticut will host the first two games of the series, as well as a potential Game 5 should the series go that far.