How the Chicago Sky's guard rotation was tested in a 77-68 loss to Seattle

Tuesday was not an easy night for the Chicago Sky

Specifically, it was a challenge for Sky point guard Dana Evans. Evans went to work against the Seattle Storm tasked with guarding Skylar Diggins-Smith, one of the best point guards in the WNBA.

In the first four games of the regular season, the Sky were focused on how forward Angel Reese would fare against the size and experience in the WNBA. Against Seattle, the Storm tested the Sky's new-look backcourt.

The Storm won. But, the Sky showed some serious gumption against a team that almost blew them out of the water in a 77-68 loss.

It was another milestone into figuring out more about this Sky team through a sample size of five games.

Seattle led by as many as 19 in the second half, but the Sky cut that lead to five. Head coach Teresa Weatherspoon said she wanted to see her team compete against a talented Storm guard rotation, and they did. The Storm were just better for a complete game.

Evans, Marina Mabrey, Lindsay Allen and Chennedy Carter would need to defend Diggins-Smith, Jewell Loyd, Sami Whitcomb and Victoria Vivians. On Tuesday, a team that thrives on fast-break points and open shooters was plagued by turnovers that ended plays before they began.

The Sky had 22 turnovers Tuesday. They were a problem coach Teresa Weatherspoon wanted to correct in the preseason. It was a problem that existed again on Tuesday. They Sky did well to limit turnovers in wins over the Wings and Liberty, but it was too much to overcome against the Storm. Seattle scored 17 points off turnovers. That's not a death sentence, considering how many turnovers the Sky had, but it was a detriment for a team that almost mounted a comeback.

Weatherspoon said the offensive execution was one of the reasons that led to turnovers.

"We have to be better there," Weatherspoon said.

Seattle's talented backcourt forced the Sky into a handful of bad passes and they forced the Sky to be precise on their post-entry passes. The Sky struggled to be consistent with the latter.

Evans played well guarding Diggins-Smith. In the end, the Notre Dame alum was too good. Diggins-Smith finished at the rim like the All-League player she is, and sealed the win with an offensive rebound that led to a 3-pointer. Diggins-Smith finished with 21 points on 7 of 12 shots, along with three steals and three assists.

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 28: Skylar Diggins-Smith #4 of the Seattle Storm grabs the rebound against Dana Evans #11 of the Chicago Sky during the first half on May 28, 2024 at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via G

Evans did her best and responded on the other end. She finished with 13 points, a team high for the Sky. It kept the Sky within striking distance with a healthy run, but the Storm's guards didn't allow the Sky to get on the fast break to completely close the gap.

Carter did continue finishing at the basket at a high level. What she started against the Sun on Saturday, she continued against the Storm. Carter's ability to play at the rim is something that can energize the Sky in a near-instant. 

Carter said the Sky need to get into transition more. Teams that play quicker and score that way thrive in the league. The Sky are already one of the best teams in transition, and Carter is a reason why.

"That's something that I'm good at," Carter said.

But, there needs to be more cohesion in the Sky's passing ability.

Those turnovers led to fast break points on the other end for Seattle. They also contributed for the Sky committing fouls, as three Sky starters had three or more fouls. Mabrey had four, and struggled to get into her usual rhythm as she finished with seven points. That's well below her 19-points per game average. Weatherspoon said Mabrey was held off the court because of foul trouble in the second half.

It was something the team will work on in practice. But, a positive is that Weatherspoon found another lineup that worked as she kept Allen in the game down the stretch of the fourth quarter comeback in Evans' stead. It wasn't anything Evans did wrong, Weatherspoon preferred the pace and how the Sky were playing with Allen running the point.

The post-play for the Sky wasn't perfect, but it was good enough to win. Chicago out-rebounded Seattle 37-32. Reese finished with her first double-double of her career. Elizabeth Williams anchored the defense.

"We hang our hats on the defensive side of the ball," Weatherspoon said. "That's who we want to be. We want to do that for 40 minutes of play."

Those were factors that led to the near-comeback. But, the biggest hurdle was the experienced guard rotation the Sky went up against. That was the test on Tuesday, one that the Sky struggled to complete. Weatherspoon thought the team could have competed better, even after almost coming back.

However, Weatherspoon is still reserved in judging her team completely until after the entire team is present.

Once the Sky get their entire roster back, Cardoso included, the coaching staff can get a firm look at this team's ceiling.

"We got so many ways we can execute," Weatherspoon said.


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