The Chicago Sky managed to keep their semifinals series alive against the Los Angles Sparks Sunday with a 70-66 win in Chicago.
For a squad that is missing their star Elena Delle Donne, the team came up big behind Courtney Vandersloot with 17 points. Rookie center Imani Boyette also helped the team out with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The biggest key for the Sky to keep the series alive was to shut down the Sparks’ offense. They managed to hold the duo of Nneka Ogwumike and Candace Parker to just 31 points between the two. Parker notched 15 rebounds on the evening but just 9 points.
As the Sky prepare for Game 4, they’ll need to keep their defensive breakout going. During the regular season, Chicago dropped multiple games in the final minutes as they were unable to finish. After a trailing 39-30 at the half, Chicago outscored the Sparks 19-8 in the third quarter to put them on top. They also managed to hold Los Angeles to 36.6 percent on field goals for the roster which is substantially less than their season average of 47.6 percent.
On the Sparks side, they’ll need to get Parker and Ogwumike the ball to get points on the board early. As far as their defense goes, they’ll have an easier time shutting down the Sky’s offense.
In Game 1 and 2, the Sky didn’t particularly have any one player that stood out and made big plays. A rookie and a seasoned veteran highlighted Chicago’s Game 3 to force one more game. Overall, without Delle Donne, the team is barely managing to hold on without a scorer that can pass twenty points in a game and take a pivotal leadership role on the court.
The Sky have the power to score and shut down the Sparks; it just comes down to executing and forcing the chemistry that the team has. Jessica Breland averages 9.3 points per game, which is the fourth-best in the league. As the number three holder in blocks per game, Boyette averages 1.8 blocks per game in the post. Vandersloot ranks fourth in the league in assists at 6.8.
The Sparks aren’t without their own power as well. Parker ranks eighth in the league for points per game with 19.7 and Ogwumike ranks sixth with 22.3. As a team that had a regular season record of 26-8, they’ve nearly perfected a rhythm that works against any opponent.
While they can just divert to Parker and Ogwumike to score, Kristi Toliver and Jantel Lavender are valid options as well. In this case, because their scoring offense goes deeper, the Sparks have the leg up for Game 4 and have the power to close out the series tonight
If the Sky can force a Game 5, they’ll return to Los Angeles for a make or break game. For now, Game 4 is tonight in Chicago at 8 p.m. EST and on ESPN2.