Sky’s history bodes well for the franchise ahead of Game 4

The franchise’s first opportunity to play in a Game 4 was in 2016 when they faced Candace Parker and the Sparks in the semifinals.

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Sky forward Candace Parker reacts in the final minutes during Game 3.

Sky forward Candace Parker reacts in the final minutes during Game 3.

Jessica Hill/AP

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — In Game 4 of the postseason, the Sky are 2-1.

The franchise’s first opportunity to play in a Game 4 was in 2016 when they faced Candace Parker and the eventual WNBA championship-winning Sparks in the semifinals. Before that, the Sky failed to force a Game 4 in their 2014 trip to the WNBA Finals and were swept by the Mercury.

In 2016, the Sky were down 2-0 in the best-of-five semifinal series against the Sparks and won 70-66 in Game 3. They avoided the sweep but lost 95-75 in Game 4. Parker finished with 29 points and five rebounds for the Sparks.

The Sky’s next Game 4 opportunity wouldn’t come until last year’s semifinal series against the Sun. After splitting the first two games of the series the Sky closed out the series at Wintrust Arena. Courtney Vandersloot went off for a team-high 19 points, Kahleah Copper had 18 and Parker scored 17.

In Game 4 of the last year’s Finals, the Mercury had a nine-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, but a three-point barrage by Allie Quigley led the Sky’s comeback. She had a 26 points and shot 50% on threes.

On Tuesday, the Sky will play in their fourth Game 4. They had an optional shootaround practice on Monday afternoon and the entire team was present except for Copper. They followed it with a film session.

“Closing a series is really hard,” Parker said. “Especially on another team’s home court. We’re worried about going back and fixing what we could get better at.”

Jones for Jones

In the final three minutes of Sunday’s Game 3, Sun coach Curt Miller subbed out his reigning MVP, Jonquel Jones, for his team’s 2022 sixth player of the year Brionna Jones.

Jonquel had two shots in the second and third quarters of Game 3 and made her first basket in the fourth at the six-minute mark.Emma Meesseman has defended Jonquel well throughout the entire series with the help of Parker and Azurá Stevens. She has averaged 13.7 points and eight rebounds in the semifinals.

“I have to make those difficult decisions all the time,” Miller said when asked why he took Jonquel out. “They at times don’t come with as many doubles to Bri Jones. So at times, do we get the ball inside with spacing that we want at times because they send so much attention to JJ? It’s kind of a feel.”

He subbed Jonquel into the game for Brionna with 54 seconds to play and his team trailing by six. Jonquel exited Mohegan Sun Arena before Miller was even done with his postgame news conference.

Looking ahead

The Aces are in a similar situation as the Sky after beating the Storm in Game 3 on the road.

The Aces and Storm scored 12 points in the final 11.3 seconds of regulation. A’ja Wilson had a double-double with a game-high 34 points and 11 rebounds in her team’s overtime win. Chelsea Gray finished with 29 points and 12 assists.

“I can’t think of a back-and-forth, between two heavyweights, like this game,” Aces coach Becky Hammon said after the game. “It was just big shot after big shot after big shot. And you’ve got two players who are in the prime of their careers going at it. You really can’t draw it up any better from a spectator viewpoint.”

What awaits the winner of the Sky/Sun semifinal series is a juggernaut, regardless of whether that’s the Storm led by Breanna Stewart or the Aces led by Wilson.

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