The Chicago Sky went 16-16 during the regular season, including a 6-10 record at home. It’s also been a month, as of Sunday, since they lost a game in Chicago, and it just so happens that Sunday is the Sky’s next home game, with a chance to win the WNBA title after walloping the Phoenix Mercury, 86-50, in Friday night’s Game 3 — the biggest blowout in Finals history.
Including their playoff run, the Sky have gone 21-11 since June 9, when they snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 92-76 triumph over the Indiana Fever. Another thing that makes the Sky’s possible upcoming dual status as .500 team and champions happened on June 9: Candace Parker returned from a sprained ankle — and with the two-time MVP on the court, Chicago is… 21-10, because she missed one other game.
Parker may be a future Hall of Famer, and winning a second championship to go with the one she won with the 2016 Los Angeles Sparks would only further her case, but the longstanding formula in basketball is three stars for a title. Courtney Vandersloot was named all-WNBA second team on Friday, and in the playoffs, the Sky have found a breakout star in Kahleah Copper.
Copper became a full-time starter in the Wubble, and this season put up a second straight year of around the same numbers — 14-15 points a game with 4-5 rebounds and a couple of assists. In these playoffs, she’s become the breakout star. Copper scored 22 points on Friday night, her fourth game of 20-plus in the postseason after three such games during the summer.
It was enough to get Chance the Rapper to don your jersey and watch you do your thing:
The Mercury, of course, have their own big three. Skyler Diggins-Smith and Brittney Griner were named all-WNBA first team on Friday, and Diana Taurasi is the greatest player in league history. Problem for Phoenix on Friday was that Griner was the only player on the whole team who made more than two shots — she was 7-for-17 for 16 points while Diggins-Smith and Taurasi combined to go 3-for-19 for 12, and everyone else combined to score 22 points on 6-for-26 shooting.
But that’s also where it might get interesting. Beating the Mercury so badly isn’t something the Sky will complain about, of course, but the outlandish margin did allow Phoenix to limit the 39-year-old Taurasi to 25 minutes, after she’d gone 39 in her 20-point Game 2 effort. That performance came after Taurasi played… only 25 minutes in Phoenix’s Game 1 loss.
The Sky got to enjoy garbage time, too — Copper’s 22 points came in just 24 minutes. And if she keeps shooting like she has been, all of the Mercury’s name recognition won’t matter. It’s who stars on the court, and the most unlikely of Finals MVPs may be emerging right before our eyes.