Chicago Sky earns first WNBA championship with 80-74 triumph over Phoenix Mercury

The Chicago Sky defeated the Phoenix Mercury 80-74 in a hard-fought game four of the 2021 WNBA Finals to give the franchise its first-ever championship. The best-of-five series win came in front of a sellout, loud crowd at Wintrust Arena in downtown Chicago. Shooting forward Kahleah Copper earned the Finals MVP award as she averaged 17.0 points per game during the Finals, shooting 50% from the field.

On the way to the Finals, the Sky won two single-elimination games (Dallas and Minnesota), then defeated the No. 1 seed (Las Vegas) in the semifinals before facing Phoenix, the No. 5 seed. Chicago became the first No. 6 seed to win the WNBA Finals.

Postgame was no time for humility as Sky head coach James Wade insisted on making opening comments:

“So, my mom always told me, she was like, ‘be humble, be humble,’ all right,” Wade began. “I want to respond to that with, mom, cut off the YouTube because I’m about to go in. I’m about to go in. Oh, my gosh, I live for this day.”

It was a hometown celebration for the Sky’s Candace Parker and Allie Quigley. Both are from the Chicago suburban area. Parker, in her first year with the Sky after spending her career in Los Angeles, started tearing up before the game ended when it was clear that the Sky would win.

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“It was amazing to just hug my dad and my mom and my family,” Parker said about her postgame high. “It was just an amazing feeling to be from here and see so many people in the stands that have been supporting you since you started. I sent Allie a picture this morning of us when we were in high school, and it was like, man, not bad for two suburban kids, right, playing in the WNBA Finals together?”

Quigley, who played in the city during her college career for DePaul, won in front of her alma mater’s coach, legendary Doug Bruno. She led Chicago with 26 points (converting 50% of her shots from beyond the arc) plus five rebounds. Eleven of those points came in the fourth quarter and included three treys. When the Sky entered the fourth quarter down by nine points, Quigley’s efforts helped change the tide.

Parker finished with a double-double of 16 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, four steals. Courtney Vandersloot, who broke several Finals records for assists, contributed 10 points, nine rebounds, and 15 assists. Copper added 10 points.

For Phoenix, Brittney Griner led all scorers with 28 points plus seven rebounds. Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith scored 16 points each. Diggins-Smith also dished out eight assists.

Early in the game, Phoenix had the upper hand. Taurasi and Copper both received technical fouls in the first quarter. The Mercury entered the second period leading 28-25 after a trey at the buzzer from Phoenix guard Sophie Cunningham.

It was a tight contest for much of the second stanza, with Phoenix leading Chicago 33-31 halfway through on the way to the break. However, the Mercury outscored the Sky in the remaining time to go into halftime, leading 44-37. Griner had 18 points plus four rebounds, a stark contrast to game three when she only had four points and two rebounds at the break.

In the third quarter, Phoenix outscored Chicago by a slim margin to enter the final frame leading by nine, 63-54. Then it was the Sky’s time. Led by a stellar offensive performance from Quigley, who put up 11 points in the period and some critical shots from Stefanie Dolson, the Chicago excelled, outscoring the Mercury 26-11 in the last ten minutes.

Parker summed up the outburst by Quigley: “Allie is amazing.”

“We stayed together,” Wade said about his team’s fight to overcome the deficit. “I guess it was a microcosm of our season where you go down, you go down, and you keep pushing.”

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  • Phoenix had been 4-0 in the WNBA Finals after losses until Sunday’s defeat.
  • Candace Parker finished with four steals and became the third player in WNBA Finals history with at least 30 career steals in the Finals joining Maya Moore and Tamika Catchings.
  • Parker surpassed Maya Moore for second all-time in WNBA Playoffs history with 383 made field goals. She also now ranks fifth in rebounding in WNBA Finals history (118).
  • Parker now has two career championships. She won her first with Los Angeles in 2016 when she earned the Finals MVP award.
  • Courtney Vandersloot furthered her records for most assists in a single postseason (102) and WNBA Finals (50).
  • Vandersloot recorded the second-most assists in a WNBA Finals game with 15.
  • Courtney became the first player to record double figure assists in four consecutive Finals games in the same series, and five-straight games spanning back to the 2014 WNBA Finals. She now ranks third all-time in career Finals assists (70).

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