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Coach James Wade preaching defense ahead of Sky’s road game against Atlanta Dream

Coming into the Sky’s second game of the season, starter Diamond DeShields said the Dream is a great one-on-one team. In order for the Sky to leave Atlanta with a victory, players are going to have to lock in on their defensive assignments.

The Sky’s Candace Parker dives for a loose ball against the Mystics’ Natasha Cloud on Saturday.
The Sky’s Candace Parker dives for a loose ball against the Mystics’ Natasha Cloud on Saturday.
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Ahead of the Sky’s 6 p.m. road game against the Atlanta Dream, coach and general manager James Wade is preaching the same defensive message.

“Transition defense is going to be a key,” Wade said. “Protecting the paint and being able to stay in front of our matchups are two other keys.”

Wade added that the Dream’s explosiveness is a problem if it goes unchecked.

Coming into the Sky’s second game of the season, starter Diamond DeShields said the Dream is a great one-on-one team. In order for the Sky to leave Atlanta with a win, players are going to have to lock in on their defensive assignments.

After the Sky’s 70-56 win over the Washington Mystics, Stefanie Dolson said only DeShields arrived at the gym before her.

DeShields said Wednesday she always likes to be the first one at the gym, arriving at 7 a.m. for 10 a.m. practice. The biggest adjustment DeShields said she’ll make between game 1 and game 2 is developing patience.

She’s focused on figuring out what works for her in Wade’s new systems, especially on the defensive end of the court. Against the Mystics, DeShields had a relatively low scoring night with seven points. She contributed five assists, pulled down three rebounds and had a steal.

This year she isn’t concerned with her scoring necessarily. DeShields wants to prove she’s a playmaker beyond being a knockdown shooter.

“I don’t want to be a scorer because I can do so much more,” DeShields said. “I’m in this league because of my ability to make plays. Every year I hope to continue to improve on that.”

The Sky announced the re-signing of rookie Natasha Mack on Tuesday after temporarily suspending Dolson due to her 3x3 national team commitments and pursuing a hardship exception. Throughout training camp, Wade was impressed by Mack’s ability on defense, on the glass and her wingspan. He said there were some adjustments to the speed of play that she needed to make, but was confident in her potential to contribute to the Sky’s success.

Set to make her WNBA debut, Mack is looking forward to proving she can be an asset no matter how long she’s with the team. She has the goal of finishing with a double-double.

“I’m enjoying every moment of this,” Mack said.

Allie Quigley and Azurá Stevens were both listed as being out against the Dream. Quigley with a hamstring injury and Stevens with a foot injury.

Wade said both players are out as a precaution and neither injury is anything to be concerned about. He said he doesn’t want to overextend players if he doesn’t have to. He added if this was a playoff game he’s sure Quigley would play.

Wade’s projected starters are Courtney Vandersloot, Kahleah Copper, DeShields, Candace Parker and Astou Ndour-Fall. Vandersloot is 38 points away from reaching 3,000 on her career. Quigley reached that milestone in the Sky’s season opener.

The Sky and the Dream tipoff at 6 p.m. on WCIU.