WNBA Playoffs: Chicago Sky to face New York Liberty in first round




 

Sky to face Liberty in first round of WNBA playoffs originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The 2022 WNBA regular season has concluded, and the standings are set for the playoffs.

The defending champion Chicago Sky enter the postseason seeded second in the league, staring down a first-round matchup with Sabrina Ionescu and the seventh-place New York Liberty in a best-of-three series.

Here is a look at the schedule for the series:

*If necessary

Although there was a 10-game gap in these team's records during the regular season - the Sky set a franchise record for wins by going 26-10, while the Liberty finished 16-20 - New York is not an opponent to be taken lightly.

The Liberty finished the regular season by winning six of their final eight games and employ a host of star talent.

Ionescu took a leap in her third season by averaging 17.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists (15.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists in four games against the Sky, including a 27-point, 13-rebound, 12-assist triple-double). Natasha Howard earned an All-Star selection in 2022 along with Ionescu and owns title experience from her time with the Lynx (2017) and Storm (2018, 2020). There's also 2021 All-Star Betnijah Laney, the sharp-shooting Marine Johannes and former Sky center Stefanie Dolson, a key piece of the team's run last season.

The Sky, meanwhile, finished the regular season third in offensive rating, fourth in defensive rating, third in net rating and first in assist rate and true shooting percentage - all signs of a balanced and devastating attack.

Although the Sky lost Dolson and Diamond DeShields (to the Phoenix Mercury) in aftermath of the franchise's first championship, they added All-Star Emma Meesseman to the title-winning core of Candace Parker, Kahleah Copper, Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley and Azura Stevens - and have seen a breakout season from defensive-minded rookie Rebekah Gardner.

The Sky and Liberty faced off four times in the regular season, twice in Chicago and twice at New York. The Sky went 3-1 in those contests, winning 83-50 at home on May 11, 88-86 on the road on June 12, and 89-81 at home on July 29. Their one loss came on July 23, when the Liberty eked out an 83-80 nail-biter at Barclays Center.

Needless to say, it should make for a compelling matchup.

The WNBA Playoffs consist of four best-of-three first-round series, then two best-of-five semifinal matchups and a best-of-five Finals.

If the Sky advance, they would face the winner of the adjacent Connecticut Sun-Dallas Wings first-round series. The former would represent a rematch of last season's semifinals, which the Sky claimed in four games.

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