To say the least, the past 24 hours have been bittersweet for the Chicago Sky.
A day after clinching a playoff birth in the WNBA with a Sunday win over Connecticut, the franchise’s fourth in a row and fourth in team history, the Sky had to take the very bad news that leading scorer and reigning league MVP Elena Delle Donne is scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday to repair her right thumb.
Delle Donne reportedly injured the thumb last Wednesday against the Washington Mystics, she has not played since then and she’s not scheduled to appear in any of the last three games of the Sky’s regular season and she’s expected to miss at least some of the now-assured playoff slate.
Prior to her injury, Delle Donne averaged 21.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game for the 16-15 Sky, a nice follow-up to her record-breaking 2015 season, which saw her lead the WNBA in scoring and lead the team in scoring, blocks, steals and rebounds per game while picking up the league’s top honors and the continued attention of ballers in and out women’s basketball.
So much of the Sky’s ascendancy within the WNBA can be attributed to the former all-American from Delaware, after drafting Delle Donne to the team in 2013 the team won a record 24 games in clinching their first-ever playoff berth. A year later saw the team finish the regular season with a losing record (15-19) but end up in the league’s finals against Phoenix, who beat the Sky in three games.
The Sky followed up the Finals berth with a winning 2015 (21-13) and Delle Donne’s MVP breakthrough but couldn’t get past rival Indiana in their first playoff series. In the sight of a possible Delle Donne-less playoff schedule, maybe the Sky can take inspiration in the ’14 team who played their best ball when it counted.
Still featuring veteran leadership and scoring pop from a trio of guards (Allie Quigley, Courtney Vandersloot and Chicago native Cappie Pondexter) the Sky still have a chance to finish out their season strong.
Something that would help greatly any stretch without Delle Donne would be getting a first round bye, which goes to the top four teams in a revised format that takes the top eight teams in the league, which no longer has separate conferences.
Such an undertaking will be difficult as the Sky currently sit sixth in the WNBA standings, they lose out tie-breakers currently to both fourth-seeded Indiana and fifth-seeded Atlanta.
The Sky’s final regular season stretch begins Tuesday night against league-leading Minnesota and none other than 50 Cent is expected to be at Allstate Arena to see. Want to hob-nob with the likes of Kanan, you can purchase tickets by calling 866.SKY.WNBA or visiting ChicagoSky.net.
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