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Diamond DeShields’ shines in first postseason appearance, helps Sky advance to second round

In their first postseason game since 2016, the Sky beat the Mercury 105-76 and advance to the second-round of the playoffs.

In their first postseason game since 2016, the Sky beat the Mercury 105-76 and advance to the second-round of the playoffs.
Annie Costabile/Sun-Times

Diamond DeShields’ predicted the Sky’s future in May when she looked directly into a TV camera and said: “We’re going to the playoffs.”

Four months later, DeShields still exudes that same confidence. In her first career WNBA postseason game, she shined on both ends of the court.

DeShields scored a team-high 25 points — most of which came on fast breaks — and had four rebounds. She also had two big blocked shots — one on DeWanna Bonner and another against Brianna Turner.

“She’s made for these types of moments,” coach James Wade said after the Sky’s 105-76 win against the Mercury. The Sky advance to the second round where they will play the Aces at 4 p.m. Sunday in Las Vegas.

What makes DeShields such a deadly weapon for the Sky is her speed, athleticism and precise shooting. She can get up the court quickly for easy breakaway baskets. She also has a high vertical to grab rebounds and disrupt opponent’s passing lanes.

“She’s been very impressive,” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said. “She’ll be one of the best players ever when she walks away from the game at the end of her career.”

And Brondello knows a superstar when she sees it. She has the “Big Three” — Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and Bonner — on her team. Unfortunately for the Mercury, only Bonner made an impact in this game.

With Taurasi (hamstring) out, All-Star center Griner went down with a knee injury in the second quarter. Griner, who averaged 25 points in three games against the Sky in the regular season, sported a brace on her left knee and started the second half. However, she quickly was subbed out. Griner finished with six points in just under 14 minutes.

“You never want to see a player — especially one that’s been the face of our league — get hurt,” Wade said. “Fortunately, it’s not that serious. She’ll be OK.”

The Mercury managed to stay competitive with the Sky during the second quarter, but looked exhausted by the start of the fourth. As a result, the Sky outscored the Mercury 61-35 in the second half.

Four of the Sky’s starters finished in double-digits in points. Vandersloot had nine points and 11 assists. And Astou Ndour, who has been a breakout star for the Sky since Jantel Lavender suffered a season-ending foot injury in August, scored 16 points and had nine rebounds. Stefanie Dolson also scored 16 points.

The Sky didn’t dwell on their victory for too long. Their focus shifted to their next opponent: the fourth-seeded Aces.

The Sky have some unfinished business with the Aces. They are 1-2 against them this season and the last time they met, Aces star Liz Cambage rattled the Sky with her trash talking and physicality in the paint.

After the game, Wade said Cambage was “protected by the refs,” and the players’ frustrations spilled over on Twitter.

“After that game, we knew we could see them again,” Vandersloot said. “It’s one that you kind of wish you had back. You think about a couple of possessions here and there and things go differently. They’re a tough team, they have two incredible bigs, it’s tough matchups for us, but when we’re playing our game and we’re doing what we’re doing, it’s tough for other teams.”