Chicago Sky upset Atlanta Dream; WNBA semifinal matchups set

Elena Della Donne leads the Chicago Sky to the Eastern Conference Finals  with 34 points in game 3.

Elena Della Donne leads the Chicago Sky to the Eastern Conference Finals with 34 points in game 3 on Tuesday, August 26.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The Chicago Sky overcame a 20-plus point deficit to stun the Eastern Conference favorite Atlanta Dream and eliminate them with an 81 – 80 victory Tuesday night. The Sky will advance to the second round of the playoffs, winning the series 2 – 1, both victories occurring in Atlanta.

Elena Della Donne (l) and Angel McCoughtry (r) both had fantastic performances throughout the 3 game series.

Elena Della Donne (l) and Angel McCoughtry (r) both had fantastic performances throughout the 3 game series.

The star of the game was the Sky’s Elena Della Donne who went off for a playoff career high 34 points, 17 in the fourth quarter, including the game winning shot with 8.2 seconds left in the game. The Sky outscored the Dream 30 – 13 in the final quarter to seal the upset victory. Della Donne shared the credit after the thrilling win stating, “When we were in huddles and I was looking at my teammates, everyone had that look in their eyes like we’re not ready to leave, we’re not ready to go home.”

McCoughtry was able to lead her Dream past the Sky in game 2 but fell just short in game 3.

McCoughtry was able to lead her Dream past the Sky in game 2 but fell just short in game 3.

The Dream’s Angel McCoughtry, who led her team to a game 2 win with 39 points, was only able to muster 17 points in the series finale. McCoughtry’s game winning attempt bounced several times on the rim before eventually clanking off in the end. Dream head coach Michael Cooper characterized game 3 like boxing saying the game was Like a Muhammed Ali – Joe Frazier fight…sometimes your great players can will you to win. Just like in game 2 where Angel [McCoughtry] brought [the victory] to us, Della Donne came in tonight and brought [the victory] to them.”

The loss brings to a close what was a promising beginning for a Dream team that has been close to winning a championship the past few seasons. The emergence of rookie Shoni Schimmel in the WNBA All-Star game seemed to be the peak for the team this season as they look to regroup and build on this season’s progress.

WNBA superstar Tamika Catchings is hoping to lead the Indiana Fever back to the WNBA Finals.

WNBA superstar Tamika Catchings is hoping to lead the Indiana Fever back to the WNBA Finals.

Meanwhile, the Sky advance to the Eastern Conference Finals to take on the Indiana Fever, led by former league MVP Tamika Catchings. The Fever dealt with injuries all season long but finally seem to be healthy. While the Della Donne versus Catchings matchup will be key in the series, the impact the Sky’s Sylvia Fowles on the interior and the Fever’s Briann January on the perimeter will play pivotal roles in the outcome of this best of 3 series.

Diana Taurasi (l) and Brittany Griner (r) hope to lead the Mercury to an upset over the defending champion Minnesota Lynx.

Diana Taurasi (l) and Brittany Griner (r) hope to lead the Mercury to an upset over the defending champion Minnesota Lynx.

The Western conference finals will feature the defending champion Minnesota Lynx and the star-studded Phoenix Mercury. Brittany Griner and Diana Taurasi look to lead the Mercury into Minnesota and upset Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, and company as their best of 3 series begins Friday night.

Maya Moore (l) and Siemone Augustus aim to defend their championship and make a 4th consecutive WNBA Finals.

Maya Moore (l) and Siemone Augustus aim to defend their championship and make a 4th consecutive WNBA Finals.

Of the four teams remaining, the Sky is the only team that has not yet played in the WNBA Finals. The Fever are looking to capture their franchise’s 2nd title (’12). The Mercury are seeking their franchise’s 3rd title (07′ and ’09). The Lynx are also looking to add a 3rd franchise title (’11 and ’13) and make their fourth consecutive Finals appearance. Any WNBA Finals matchup should make for more exciting playoff action.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Shoni Schimmel, Atlanta Dream, WNBA, expand on All-Star buzz

Atlanta Dream reserve guard Shoni Schimmel won WNBA All-Star game MVP in her rookie season.

Atlanta Dream reserve guard Shoni Schimmel won WNBA All-Star game MVP in her rookie season.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

As the WNBA enters the last few weeks of the regular season, the Atlanta Dream is trying to capitalize on the momentum from the 2014 All-Star game played this past Saturday. Dream reserve guard Shoni Schimmel set a WNBA All-Star game record with 29 points en route to earning MVP honors as the East won in overtime over the West 125 – 124. Schimmel has seen her popularity surge as her flashy style of play, combined with her Native American background has made her a fan favorite in just her rookie season.

Older sister Nneka Ogwumike (l) had to watch her younger sister Chiney Ogwumike (r) celebrate victory in only the second time the sisters have faced each other.

Older sister Nneka Ogwumike (l) had to watch her younger sister Chiney Ogwumike (r) celebrate victory in only the second time the sisters have faced each other.

The WNBA All-Star game featured many highlights, including the first pair of sisters (Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike), an in-game dunk by Brittany Griner, scoring outbursts from Schimmel and the WNBA second leading scorer, Skylar Diggins. The game winning shot for the East came from 9-time All-Star Tamika Catchings, who has missed the bulk of this season due to injury. The Phoenix crowd was treated to what is likely to be described as the best All-Star game in WNBA history.

Atlanta Dream head coach Michael Cooper guided the East to an overtime victory but received the unfortunate diagnosis of tongue cancer shortly thereafter.

Atlanta Dream head coach Michael Cooper guided the East to an overtime victory but received the unfortunate diagnosis of tongue cancer shortly thereafter.

The East was coached by Dream head coach Michael Cooper, who has been diagnosed with tongue cancer in the past few days, but has helped guide his team to a sizable lead in the Eastern Conference. Cooper is expected to make a full recovery after surgery and will take a leave of absence from the team for at least two weeks. The team will have to learn to adjust as the season nears its end. Schimmel, with her All-Star game and Atlanta Dream teammates Angel McCoughtry and Erika de Souza, have already been tested as they lost an overtime game Tuesday July 22, to last year’s champions Minnesota Lynx.

Maya Moore is hoping her excellent season can translate to continued post-season success for her Minnesota Lynx.

Maya Moore is hoping her excellent season can translate to continued post-season success for her Minnesota Lynx.

The Lynx team continues to be led by WNBA’s leading scorer, Maya Moore, as the team strives to continue its recent championship success. The Dream players made it to the Finals three times in the last four years (’10, ’11, and ’13) but have yet to win it all. Meanwhile, the Lynx  players have been to the Finals the last three seasons and have won twice (’11 and ’13) in that span, defeating the Dream on both occasions. Both teams seem to be on a collision course for the WNBA Finals again-OnPointPress.net.

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.