With its 75-62 win at the Indiana Fever Wednesday, the Chicago Sky advanced to the WNBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, and thus will be the opponent for the Western Conference champion Phoenix Mercury.
Sixth Woman of the Year Allie Quigley led the Sky with 24 points, and Sylvia Fowles scored 17 to reach her first Finals after two Olympic gold medals, four Final Fours at LSU and twice being named WNBA Defensive Player of the Year. Shavonte Zellous led the 2012 champion Fever with 16 points, as the loss ended the Hall of Fame career of head coach Lin Dunn.
Game One will be at 12:30 p.m. PT at US Airways Center, and Game Two will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, before the series shifts to Chicago for Game Three at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12. If necessary games four and five would be Sept. 14 in Chicago and Sept. 17 in Phoenix.
It will be one of the most imbalanced championship series in sports history, based on regular season records, after the Mercury’s record-setting 29-5 campaign and the Sky’s 15-19 squeak into the playoffs.
“I’ve been to two Finals and they’ve both gone five games,” Mercury guard Diana Taurasi said Tuesday after a 31-point performance of the ages. “Once you get to the Finals, it’s a different level of intensity. Every inch counts, it just gets harder from here on out.”
Defending Rookie of the Year Elena Delle Donne was limited to only 16 games with Lyme disease, but she still averaged 18 points for the Sky. After averaging 27.5 in the first round against Atlanta, she was just 1-of-3 in 20 minutes Wednesday, now suffering from a stiff back.
Her draftmate, Brittney Griner, meanwhile, averaged 15.6 points, eight rebounds and a record 3.8 blocks in being named Defensive Player of the Year in her sophomore season.
“It’s definitely going to be a grind,” Griner said. “The intensity is going to go up.”
The Mercury defeated the Sky twice this season, 87-69 July 2 in Phoenix and 72-66 July 11 in Chicago, both without Delle Donne.