The Chicago Sky snapped the Connecticut Sun’s seven-game winning streak Sunday night, beating the Sun 93-75 at Wintrust Arena.
The Chicago Sky continue to make their case as a legitimate contender.
After a series of tight wins and some early blowout losses, the Sky picked up what might be their biggest statement win of the season.
Chicago controlled the Connecticut Sun—who have dominated the league this season—for most of the game. A lightning second quarter put Chicago in the driver’s seat early on, and the Sky never looked back.
For the Sky, who have struggled at times in the second half of this season, it felt like a different breed of confidence from last season’s forgettable 13-21 campaign.
“It just emphasizes what we already know, which is that we’re the team to beat,” Sky center Cheynne Parker said. “And I don’t think everyone realizes that the potential that this team has, we haven’t even reached. So, I think the statement we said is that we’re a force to reckon with this season.”
Parker has been a key face for the new-look Sky this season, and led the Sky in the weekend victory. She had 22 points on an absurdly-efficient 8-10 shooting from the field, as well as six rebounds and two blocks.
For Parker, her production continually boils down to her energy and effort on both ends of the floor, which blends in seamlessly with the Sky’s frenetic offense. She’s capable of finding her own offense without having plays run for her and routinely extends possessions for Chicago.
On defense, Parker was tasked with matching up with Jonquel Jones on both ends of the floor and used her physicality to make life difficult for the former All-Star. Parker’s defense echoes the overall approach for the Sky on that end of the floor: athleticism kills.
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Chicago has made steady improvements on defense with that mentality in mind. The Sky’s ability to matchup on the perimeter and cover space has taken some of the sting out of their lack of rim protection. They still get beat on seals and back cuts more often than they should, but have made strides everywhere else.
The Sky are now decidedly middle of the pack on defense this season, a far cry from last year’s record-setting defensive struggles. Chicago is still far from the elites on defense, though, and likely will not be joining them anytime soon.
The good news for the Sky, however, is that average is good enough to keep them in the playoff hunt. At least for now. Chicago has gotten themselves to a point where they can weather a cold quarter or two and still pull out a win, something those 2017 and 2018 teams could rarely do.
Considering the fits and starts the Sky have gone through so far, a 6-3 start to the season is better than most predicted. The Sky are far from perfect, but have also already demonstrated significant growth early this year.
If that growth can find its way into consistent results and both ends of the floor, Chicago should be primed for a return to the playoffs.
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