Entering Wednesday night, two teams came into Game 4 of the semifinals aiming to pull off upset wins to punch their tickets to the WNBA Finals, while the other two teams were hoping to keep their seasons alive and force series-deciding Game 5s.
With both the Chicago Sky and Phoenix Mercury holding 2-1 series leads over the Connecticut Sun and Las Vegas Aces, the night resulted in one series concluding with Chicago advancing to the championship series and the other series heading to a winner-take-all Game 5 on Friday for a chance to face the Sky for the title.
Let’s take a look back at what took place in both Game 4s in Chicago and Phoenix on Wednesday night.
#6 Chicago Sky – 3, #1 Connecticut Sun – 1
Game One: Sky 101, Sun 95 (2OT)
Game Two: Sun 79, Sky 68
Game Three: Sky 86, Sun 83
Game Four: Sky 79, Sun 69
With the first three games of the series between Chicago and Connecticut being back-and-forth contests, Wednesday’s Game 4 didn’t feel as close as the final score indicates. For most of the game, the Sky were in control and had a handle on the Sun in order to pull off an impressive series upset over the WNBA’s top team.
From the opening tip of the game, Chicago got out to a hot start, much like it did throughout the entire series against Connecticut. The Sky took a 54-41 lead into halftime, which they later extended to as much as 18 points to take the life out of the Sun at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. By the end of the game, Chicago cruised to a 79-69 victory to take the series 3-1, pulling off the surprising upset and advancing to the WNBA Finals.
With the win, Chicago’s underdog run will continue in the championship series, while Connecticut’s season ends early. Notably, the Sun become the first top-seeded team to not reach the WNBA Finals since the playoffs changed to the current format in 2016.
.@CHICAGOSKY CLOSE OUT THE SERIES 🚨
— WNBA (@WNBA) October 7, 2021
Chicago displayed a spread out offensive attack throughout the game that was too much for Connecticut to contain. Chicago’s striking performance was headlined by Courtney Vandersloot, who tallied 19 points, four assists and four rebounds, and Kahleah Copper, who racked up 18 points and six rebounds. Candace Parker added 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and Azurá Stevens finished with 11 points and seven rebounds for the Sky.
With Briann January being a late scratch in the game due to injury, the short-handed Sun were led by Jonquel Jones with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Natisha Hiedeman had 16 points in extended playing time off the bench, while Jasmine Thomas added 11 points and five rebounds for the Sun.
After a rollercoaster year for Chicago and a dominant regular season from Connecticut, this series concluded in surprising fashion with the Sky pulling off the upset. The Sky, who at one point held an overall record of 2-7 and had lost seven straight in the early stages of the summer, will now aim to continue their run in the WNBA Finals.
#2 Las Vegas Aces – 2, #5 Phoenix Mercury – 2
Game One: Aces 96, Mercury 90
Game Two: Mercury 117, Aces 91
Game Three: Mercury 87, Aces 60
Game Four: Aces 93, Mercury 76
After putting together two straight dominant wins to take a commanding 2-1 series lead, Phoenix looked to stay hot at Footprint Center in Phoenix to wrap up the semifinals series against Las Vegas. The Aces, on the other hand, hoped to correct things quickly to save their season and ultimately force a series-deciding Game 5.
Unlike the previous two games, Game 4 on Wednesday started as a back-and-forth battle with the Aces and Mercury going shot-for-shot for most of the first half, resulting in the Aces holding a slight 49-46 lead at the break. But in the second half, Las Vegas stepped on the gas and went on a 24-0 run at one point in the third quarter, taking control of the game to claim a 93-76 victory.
.@LVAces STAY ALIVE 🚨
— WNBA (@WNBA) October 7, 2021
As she has done in the playoffs throughout her career, Chelsea Gray stepped up when Las Vegas needed her the most, leading the Aces with a team-best 22 points and six assists. Kelsey Plum continued to be a nice spark off the bench with 20 points and six assists, and Riquna Williams added 17 points. A’ja Wilson also had a solid showing, tallying a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds in the win.
Following Kia Nurse going down with a knee injury in the early minutes of the game, the Mercury seemed unable to get anything going offensively and had no answer for the Aces on the defensive end. Leading the way for Phoenix was Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith with 14 points each, followed by a below-average performance from Brittney Griner of just 13 points and eight rebounds. Shey Peddy was also a significant contributor with 13 points and six rebounds off the bench.
After struggling the last two games and falling behind in the series, Las Vegas responded in Game 4 to keep the season alive and force a winner-take-all Game 5 at 9 p.m. ET on Friday. If the series thus far has been any indication, the win-or-go-home game in Las Vegas between the Aces and Mercury will be an entertaining one with a trip to the WNBA Finals on the line.
WNBA Playoff Schedule
First Round (single elimination):
Second Round (single elimination):
- Game One (Tuesday, Sept. 28):
- Game Two (Thursday, Sept. 30):
- Game Three (Sunday, Oct. 3):
- Game Four (Wednesday, Oct. 6):
- Game Five (Friday, Oct. 8):
- #5 Phoenix Mercury at #2 Las Vegas Aces, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2
- Game One (Sunday, Oct. 10):
- #6 Chicago Sky at. TBD, 3 p.m. ET on ABC
- Game Two (Wednesday, Oct. 13):
- #6 Chicago Sky at. TBD, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
- Game Three (Friday, Oct. 15):
- TBD at #6 Chicago Sky, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2
- Game Four – if necessary (Sunday, Oct. 17):
- TBD at #6 Chicago Sky, 3 p.m. ET on ESPN
- Game Five – if necessary (Tuesday, Oct. 19):
- #6 Chicago Sky at TBD, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2