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2021 WNBA Playoffs — Candace Parker plays hometown hero as the Chicago Sky head to WNBA Finals

The Chicago Sky are WNBA Finals sure!

They defeated the Connecticut Sun 79-69 in Recreation 4 of the semifinals Wednesday night time, successful the collection 3-1. After the collection was tied 1-1 after Recreation 2, the Sky received two straight to beat the No. 1 seeded Solar.

Chicago began out quick in Recreation 4, leaping out to a 13-4 lead early within the first. They by no means regarded again after that, exerting their dominance over a shorthanded Connecticut squad. Candace Parker did all of it for the Sky, ending with 17 factors, 9 rebounds, eight assists together with two blocks and two steals.

That is Chicago’s second time making the WNBA Finals with a report of .500 or worse, having achieved so in 2014, per ESPN’s Stats & Information. Solely two different groups in league historical past (2013 Atlanta Dream and 2004 Solar) have matched the feat.

Wintrust Arena was electric all through the sport, and there have been many large names in attendance to look at the Sky punch their ticket to the Finals. Hip-hop artist Likelihood the Rapper was current for the competition, making good on his promise after saying he would come watch Recreation 4 in-person after the workforce’s Recreation 3 victory.

The Chicago Blackhawks additionally shouted out the Sky pregame, wishing them luck of their series-clinching Recreation 4 matchup.

The Blackhawks weren’t the one Chicago workforce displaying help. Coby White and Patrick Williams of the Chicago Bulls had been additionally current for the playoff contest and had front-row seats. Employees members of the Chicago Red Stars of the Nationwide Ladies’s Soccer League confirmed up as properly.

Even Bulls legend and NBA Champion Scottie Pippen got here out to help the Sky.

Courtney Vandersloot was on hearth to start out the sport, pouring in 13 factors within the first quarter. She was a marksman from three-point land as properly, making all three of her makes an attempt within the first ten minutes. She completed the competition with 19 factors, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.

The Solar fought again after the preliminary punch from the Sky, reducing the result in six after the primary. Within the second, Chicago’s offense continued to function like a well-oiled machine, with Parker and Kahleah Copper main the best way with their fast-break assault.

Chicago stored the stress on within the second, widening their lead towards Connecticut. They led the Solar 54-41 on the half, primarily due to their spectacular three-point capturing. As a workforce, the Sky shot 61.5 p.c from deep, making it rain on Jonquel Jones and firm.

The third quarter was the Kahleah Copper present, as she took over the Sky’s offense. She ran the ground and made some powerful photographs. Everybody was hyped concerning the Philadelphia-born participant’s distinctive efficiency — ending with 18 factors, six rebounds and two assists. South Carolina Gamecocks ladies’s basketball coach Daybreak Staley, who’s additionally a Philly native, made certain to remind the Twitterverse the place Copper is from.

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Kahleah Copper reacts after the Solar are whistled for a foul on her reverse lay-in.

The Solar confirmed some resilience, nonetheless, discovering a method to reply to each assault the Sky threw at them. However turnovers and stifling protection by the Sky stored them behind on the scoreboard. Chicago dashed their hopes within the fourth quarter, as Parker performed the position of nearer, shutting the door on Connecticut’s season.

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Candace Parker will get to 17 factors in model, spinning round her defender and scoring off the glass.

The Sky reaching the Finals is basically because of the pivotal offseason acquisition of Parker. Chicago was already a formidable workforce earlier than her arrival, as Vandersloot, Diamond DeShields and Allie Quigley had been stars in their very own proper. They and the Sky clinched the highest seed within the Jap Convention with a 12-10 report in 2020, however fell within the first spherical of the postseason that yr.

After the early playoff exit, head coach James Wade knew the workforce wanted championship expertise to get to the subsequent stage, and Parker match that want completely.

“She’s the kind of expertise and individual the place she has expectations. Yearly, the workforce she’s on, you robotically think about her workforce a championship contender,” Wade stated per the Daily Herald. “As soon as we felt there could possibly be a gap (for Parker), we went at it 100%.”

Parker left the Los Angeles Sparks — the workforce she’s been along with her complete WNBA profession, to affix the Sky. Having grown up in Naperville, Illinois (an hour southwest of Chicago), the 35-year-old ahead wished to return residence so she may play in entrance of household and buddies and assist the Sky acquire their first-ever championship.

“Chicago is the place my household raised me; the place I first discovered the sport of basketball; and the place I first fell in love with this orange ball,” Parker stated this offseason when she signed with the Sky, based on the Chicago Tribune.

Parker’s first season in Chicago wasn’t simple, as she suffered a ugly ankle damage within the season opener. She missed eight straight video games, and the Sky went 1-7 throughout that stretch. She returned on June ninth, and the workforce went 14-9 the remainder of the best way.

Parker made it recognized that she wished to deliver her hometown workforce a championship, and he or she is 4 wins away from making that dream a actuality.

https://www.espn.com/wnba/story/_/id/32351313/2021-wnba-playoffs-candace-parker-plays-hometown-hero-chicago-sky-head-wnba-finals | 2021 WNBA Playoffs — Candace Parker performs hometown hero because the Chicago Sky head to WNBA Finals

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