Sky ready to roll dice against top-seeded Aces

There were dynasty years in Chicago during the 90s. But Bulls fans probably didn't spend much time empathizing with whatever opponent turned up in the opening-round, 1 vs. 8 series.

Well, the Sky is that team, trying to challenge defending WNBA champion Las Vegas. The Aces have more or less the same team back and finished the regular season with a 34-6 record.

What chance do the Sky have? Well, maybe it's a good sign all-star forward Kahleah Copper scored a career-high 37 points against Las Vegas this season. That happened on July 25 at Wintrust Arena and the Sky lost the game by 12.

But at least there's something positive. Game 1 of the best-of-three series is set for Wednesday in Vegas (9 p.m., ESPN). Game 2 is Sunday. If the Sky managed to win one of those contests, Game 3 would be at Wintrust next Wednesday, in a scheduling quirk unique to the WNBA.

"They're the No. 1 team," Sky guard Marina Mabrey said Tuesday. "They have a ton of weapons. They're really, really good, we respect them. But you want to also go out there and demand respect too. It's going to be a tough series, but I think also we have strengths to our game too."

Perhaps another sign of hope is the Sky's best effort against the Aces was in the most recent meeting, on Aug. 24 in Chicago. The Sky led that one 50-37 at halftime, but couldn't hang on. Mabrey led the Sky with 22 points that night.

"I don't think the Aces are a team you can be like, 'Oh, if we had just done this one thing, we're going to win,'" Mabrey said. "But I think there are some things that kind of snowballed for us in other games, such as scoring in transition when we needed to convert, letting people get to their left hand, letting people get to the elbow."

The Aces are led by 6-4 forward A'ja Wilson, a two-time MVP, with 22.8 points and 9.5 rebounds. Guard Kelsey Plum is next at 18.7 points. Former Sky forward Candace Parker played in the first meeting between these teams, but her season ended with a broken foot.

The Sky ruled forward Alanna Smith questionable with an ankle injury in the official injury report, while Copper is probable with a toe injury.

Guard Courtney Williams was named Eastern Conference player of the week after she loaded the box score Sunday in Connecticut with a 23-point, 16-rebound, 13-assist triple-double.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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