Here’s what awaits Sky in second half of WNBA season

The team is atop the league standings, one game ahead of the Las Vegas Aces.

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The Sky, with the best record in the WNBA at the All-Star break, are halfway home on their quest to win back-to-back titles.

At their worst, they’re a top-three team in the league; at their best, they look like repeat champs.

Toughest competition

If the Sky reach the Finals, coach Becky Hammon’s Las Vegas Aces look like the team they most likely would be facing. The Aces opened the year on a tear, going 9-1 for the best start in team history and the best start by a new coach in league history. But in the last 10 games, they’ve gone 5-5, losing to the Minnesota Lynx and New York Liberty. Beyond their starting five, led by MVP contender A’ja Wilson, the Aces are below average. Their bench contributes a league-worst 11.7 points per game, bringing into question if their style of play is sustainable. The Sky and Aces will meet July 26 for the Commissioner’s Cup, a potential Finals preview. Beyond the Aces, the Seattle Storm, with the midseason addition of Tina Charles, are a formidable opponent. In Sue Bird’s final season, the motivated Storm could overtake the Sky and make history of their own by becoming the first WNBA team to win five titles.

Biggest threat to a repeat

Beyond opponents, the Sky’s biggest possible impediment to repeating is health. Coach/general manager James Wade’s team is seasoned, with the starting five’s median WNBA experience at 11.2 years. Last season showed how much this team changes without Candace Parker and Allie Quigley in the lineup, and Courtney Vandersloot revealed after the 2021 -Finals that she was nursing a partially torn plantar fascia. The Sky’s depth, balanced offense and ability to beat teams in a variety of ways are why they’re atop the league standings, but they need everyone healthy to be successful.

Where they need to improve

The Sky have been adamant that they have yet to play their best basketball, and they’re right. They are last in the league in second-chance points allowed, giving up 11.5 a game. And Wade’s team is eighth in the league in turnovers, averaging 15.3. The Sky are 8-2 in their last 10 games but lost winnable games against the Lynx and Indiana Fever because of a lack of urgency, unforced turnovers and second-chance points. In a series against the Aces or Storm, those errors could cost them a title.

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