The defending champion No. 2 Chicago Sky are 40 minutes from seeing their season end at the hands of the No. 7 New York Liberty after a late fourth quarter breakdown gave Sabrina Ionescu and her team the space to steal a game on the road.
In the final three minutes and 31 seconds, the Sky missed all eight of their field goal attempts while New York scored 13 on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting. Ionescu scored 10 of her team’s 25 fourth-quarter points.
It was an upset none of us expected.
The Liberty looked like the team we’d waited for all regular season
Betnijah Laney missing two months of the season to a meniscus injury didn’t help, but New York was a super streaky on-or-very-off team all season. When Ionescu cooked, so did her team, but Laney was the missing link to give the point guard some wiggle room.
On Thursday night, everyone chipped in. Ionescu finished with 22 points seven rebounds and six assists, Laney scored 17 points with five boards and five assists, Natasha Howard poured in 22 with seven rebounds and Stefanie Dolson hit three 3-pointers.
Can the Liberty do this again?
Hell yeah they can. Nothing that happened in this game was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And though the Sky won their regular season series 3-1, one of those wins was by three points and another by eight. Aside from one blowout, it’s been close.
The Sky have to win a game on the road to survive
That’s the biggest part here. With the new WNBA playoff format having the top seed host the first two games, a third decisive one would happen at Barclays Center.
That means the Sky *have* to win their game at home AND one on the road — despite finishing 10 games better than the Liberty this season. Oof.
Game 2 is on Saturday at 12 ET on ESPN.