2020 WNBA playoffs: Chicago Sky vs. Connecticut Sun preview, prediction, how to watch, start time


The 2020 WNBA playoffs have arrived. And while the regular season was shortened to 22 games due to the coronavirus pandemic, the postseason will be played as normal. All the action will begin on Tuesday night, with the single-elimination first-round games, with the winners advancing to the single-elimination second round on Thursday.

In the first game of the evening, the No. 6 seed Chicago Sky will take on the No. 7 seed Connecticut Sun. After a terrific start, the Sky lost both Azura Stevens and Diamond DeShields, and faltered over the final few weeks to finish in sixth place. It was the opposite story for the Sun, who were a disaster to start the season, but came on strong to clinch a playoff spot. 

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Here’s everything you need to know about this winner-take-all matchup:

How to Watch Sky vs. Sun

  • Date: Tuesday, Sept. 15 | 7 p.m. ET
  • Location: IMG Academy — Bradenton, Florida
  • TV: ESPN 2 I Stream: Fubo TV (try for free
  • Odds: Not yet released

How they got here

Sky: The Sky are in the playoffs for the second straight season, but expectations are much lower now than they were earlier this summer. Led by Courtney Vandersloot, Chicago got off to a 10-4 start, which was one of its best openings to a season in franchise history. After that point, however, things went south. Azura Stevens (knee injury) and Diamond DeShields (personal reasons) both left the bubble, and they finished the season on a 2-6 skid. As a result, they dropped into sixth place, and now must go through multiple single-elimination rounds just to reach the semifinals. 

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Sun: Unlike the Sky, the Sun did not start the season well. Playing without Jonquel Jones (sitting out the season) and Briann January (recovering from COVID-19), the Sun lost their first five games, and were 1-6 through the first third of the season, which had them down near the bottom of the standings, and looking nothing like a playoff team. But thanks to a softer schedule, more familiarity with each other and January’s return, the new-look Sun soon figured things out and worked their into the playoff picture. Unfortunately for them, they got off to such a poor start that they had no chance of getting a top-four seed. 

Players to watch

  • Courtney Vandersloot — G, Sky: Chicago’s leader was terrific this season, establishing herself as the best point guard in the league, and earning fringe MVP consideration. She set new a WNBA record for assists in a game (18) and broke her own mark for assists per game (9.9). 
  • Alyssa Thomas — F, Sun: Thomas is perhaps the most unique player in the entire league. She has a torn labrum in each shoulder, almost never shoots outside the paint and runs the show for the Sun as a point forward who’s relentless on both ends. 
  • DeWanna Bonner — F, Sun: Bonner’s first season with the Sun didn’t exactly go as planned, though it certainly wasn’t her fault. The versatile veteran forward had her best scoring season since 2012, and is a threat all over the court. 

Prediction

This is a tricky one, and not just because it’s a single-elimination playoff game, which lends itself to dramatic outcomes. 

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The Sky were a mess to close out the season, and are much worse defensively without Stevens and DeShields — not that they were all that great on that end to begin with. Connecticut was one of the worst offensive teams in the league, though, and don’t have a ton of firepower to really exploit Chicago on that end. The Sun, meanwhile, got better down the stretch, but are also banged up, with both members of their starting backcourt dealing with injuries — plantar fasciitis for Jasmine Thomas, dislocated finger for Briann January — that could limit their effectiveness. 

With all that in mind, we’re going to lean slightly toward the Sky because of their superior offensive attack. They have more reliable scorers, and players who can create their own shot, something that becomes even more important in the postseason. Pick: Sky

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