Fight for the Finals: Sky, Aces Take Early Semifinals Leads With Game One Wins

With the single-elimination rounds over with and the WNBA Playoffs down to the final four teams, the best-of-five semifinals began on Tuesday night with a pair of Game One contests to begin the fight to reach the WNBA Finals. 

The sixth seed Chicago Sky and the top seed Connecticut Sun are battling it out on one side of the bracket, with the fifth seed Phoenix Mercury facing off against the second seed Las Vegas Aces on the other side. 

After an entertaining opening night of the semifinal round, let’s take a look back at the night and each Game One that took place Tuesday night. 

#6 Chicago Sky 1, #1 Connecticut Sun 0
Game One: Sky 101, Sun 95 (2OT)

In the first semifinals game of the playoffs, Chicago and Connecticut certainly didn’t disappoint in a back-and-forth battle that ended in double overtime at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. The entertaining matchup finished with the Sky pulling out a 101-95 upset victory to take a 1-0 series lead. 

In the game, the Sky were able to get out in front and to a nice lead in the opening quarter, perhaps taking advantage of any rust that rest might have caused the Sun after completing a double-bye before taking the floor in Game One. An expected bounce-back from Connecticut followed shortly, although both teams continued to go back and forth for the remainder of the game until the contest was finally decided in double overtime. 

 

Part of the success on the side of Chicago was due to the big-time performances from Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot, and Allie Quigley. Parker led the Sky with 22 points, six assists, and five rebounds, coming up with some big plays down the stretch. Vandersloot and Quigley did a bit of everything both offensively and defensively, with Vandersloot putting together the mind-boggling triple-double stat line of 12 points, a playoff record 18 assists, 10 rebounds, four steals, and two blocks, and Quigley finishing with 19 points and three assists.

For Connecticut, the post trio comprised of 2021 WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones, DeWanna Bonner, and Brionna Jones did everything they could to not only help the Sun recover from a slow start by try and come away with an overtime win on their home floor. Jonquel Jones had a team-best 26 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists, Brionna Jones had 22 points and 10 rebounds and Bonner added 13 points and 10 rebounds on the night. 

It will be interesting to see if Chicago will start to run out of gas or if fatigue starts to play a key part in this semifinals matchup moving forward. If that is indeed the case, Connecticut could stretch the series out and would be more rested for the long haul. In the meantime, the Sky are riding high into Game 2 on Thursday. 

 

#2 Las Vegas Aces 1, #5 Phoenix Mercury 0

Game One: Aces 96, Mercury 90

Much like in the first game between Chicago and Connecticut, the nightcap between Phoenix and Las Vegas was a fast-paced, back-and-forth battle at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas. The game finished with the Aces coming out on top over the Mercury 96-90 to take a 1-0 series advantage. 

Like we saw with the Sky, the Mercury jumped out to a near-double-digit lead after the first quarter, only to have the Aces bounce back and make it a close game by the end. With a second-half including a post-battle between Brittney Griner and Liz Cambage going shot-for-shot and Kelsey Plum taking over to spark the Aces, Las Vegas pulled away over the final two quarters and held off a late Phoenix comeback attempt to come out on top. 

 

For the Aces, their impressive balanced attack was on display in the win, with big-time performances from Riquna Williams with 26 points and four rebounds and Kelsey Plum with 25 points and three assists off the bench. Chelsea Gray and A’ja Wilson also had key moments in the game, with Gray adding 17 points and 12 assists and Wilson finishing with 15 points and nine rebounds. 

Griner had a team-high 24 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and two blocks to lead Phoenix, followed by Diana Taurasi with 20 points, six assists, and five rebounds. The Mercury will need more from Skylar Diggins-Smith in this series moving forward, as she was limited to just 10 points, four assists, and three rebounds. 

If Game One was any indication, this series will also be one that will be entertaining at least early on. With the fun battles that have taken place in the paint to counter the balanced attack on both teams, this series could end up being decided by who will simply outlast the other and whose depth is greater to advance to the Finals. 

 

WNBA Playoff Schedule 

First Round (single-elimination):
  • #6 Chicago Sky 81, #7 Dallas Wings 64 RECAP
  • #5 Phoenix Mercury 83, #8 New York Liberty 82 RECAP
Second Round (single-elimination):
  • #5 Phoenix Mercury 85, #4 Seattle Storm 80 (OT) RECAP
  • #6 Chicago Sky 89, #3 Minnesota Lynx 76 RECAP
Semifinals: 
  • Game One (Tuesday, Sept. 28): 
    • #6 Chicago Sky 101, #1 Connecticut Sun 95 (2OT) RECAP
    • #2 Las Vegas Aces 96, #5 Phoenix Mercury 90 RECAP
  • Game Two (Thursday, Sept. 30):
    • #6 Chicago Sky at #1 Connecticut Sun, 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2
    • #5 Phoenix Mercury at #2 Las Vegas Aces, 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2
  • Game Three (Sunday, Oct. 3): 
    • #1 Connecticut Sun at #6 Chicago Sky, 1 p.m. ET on ESPN
    • #2 Las Vegas Aces at #5 Phoenix Mercury, 3 p.m. ET on ABC
  • Game Four, if necessary (Wednesday, Oct. 6):
    • #1 Connecticut Sun at #6 Chicago Sky, TBD on ESPN
    • #2 Las Vegas Aces at #5 Phoenix Mercury, TBD on ESPN
  • Game Five, if necessary (Friday, Oct. 8):
    • #6 Chicago Sky at #1 Connecticut Sun, TBD on ESPN2
    • #5 Phoenix Mercury at #2 Las Vegas Aces, TBD on ESPN2

WNBA Finals: 

  • Game One: Sunday, Oct. 10 on ABC
  • Game Two: Wednesday, Oct. 13 on ESPN2
  • Game Three: Friday, Oct. 15 on ESPN2
  • Game Four (if necessary): Sunday, Oct. 17 on ESPN
  • Game Five (if necessary): Tuesday, Oct. 19 on ESPN2

 

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