The Chicago Sky fell to the Washington Mystics 81-74 Wednesday afternoon after countless turnovers and a second-half shooting slump derailed the Sky’s early success.
CHICAGO — If Sunday night’s win over the Connecticut Sun felt like a turning point for the Chicago Sky’s season, Wednesday afternoon’s loss to the Washington Mystics was a reminder that progress does not always march in a straight line.
After hints over the past few weeks that the Sky were starting to take care of the ball better, the team unraveled at home.
“I think we were just careless with the ball,” head coach James Wade said of the team’s 17 turnover performance. “We didn’t appreciate the ball enough, especially when you’re playing a good team like this. We know they reach and they grab, but we have to be strong with the ball. A lot of our turnovers were unforced. We can’t be an elite team until we appreciate having the ball and not turning it over. We can’t turn into a “My bad” team, where possessions don’t matter to us. I thought that’s how it was tonight: possessions weren’t as important as they need to be.”
While Chicago surrendered layup after layup on defense, it was the 17 points off of turnovers that doomed them down the stretch.
“We came out ready for the game,” center Stefanie Dolson said. “[The Mystics] got their hands in there, and we gave the ball up too much. We turned it over. We were too careless, and we didn’t stop it. We just let it keep happening. We have to get better at stopping it when it happens instead of adding to it.”
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Turnovers have been the biggest issue with the Sky the season, and Chicago is third in the league in turnovers per game. But there have been signs of hope.
During their four game winning streak, the Sky had two games where they only turned the ball over nine and 10 times, and Chicago only gave the ball away 10 times in their loss to the Indiana Fever.
Chicago is winning games in spite of their turnovers, but the margins are thin. The Sky have a +/- of 0 on the season and have consistently allowed teams to hang around this year. Turnovers reduce the wiggle room the Sky have on a game to game basis and prevent them from taking games over.
Despite Chicago’s big improvements this season, the Sky feel like they are a step away from knocking on the door of the upper echelon of the WNBA. Chicago does not yet have resilience to weather the storm of an off night from Diamond DeShields or their defense like they had today. Turnovers are at the center of that issue, and are what has prevented the Sky from showing what could make them an elite team in years to come.
“We’ll figure it out,” Wade said. “That’s the part of it that you love about the game: the highs and the lows. So we don’t want to get too high, we don’t want to get too low. We’re gonna control the things that we can control and the execution part of it is what [that] is. The other things that we can’t control, we can’t control. We just have to deal with it. That’s life.”
Chicago’s next chance to show that improvement will come on the road against the Seattle Storm this upcoming Friday.
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