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WNBA: Defensive-minded Sky visit Dream

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The Chicago Sky looked dominant in their season-opening win at the Washington Mystics, while the Atlanta Dream struggled at home against the Connecticut Sun in their first game.

The teams meet Wednesday in Atlanta with Chicago having played most recently, beating the Mystics 70-56 on Saturday in the debut of Candace Parker with the Sky after 13 seasons with the Los Angeles Sparks.

The 56 points were the third fewest by an opponent in Chicago franchise history.

Atlanta opened on Friday, losing to the Sun 78-67 after making only 35.9 percent of its shots from the field and getting outrebounded 42-26 in the first game under interim coach Mike Petersen.

The Dream’s lack of an inside presence is a concern for Petersen, whose team was dominated by 6-foot-6 center Jonquel Jones. She had 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field with eight rebounds.

The Sky have five players who are at least 6-4, including Parker. Atlanta has only three players who are at least 6-4 and two of them — Cheyenne Parker (COVID-19 protocol) and Kalani Brown (coach’s decision) — did not play against Connecticut.

“You get outrebounded by 16, you know you got problems,” Petersen said. “It’s gonna be a problem for us all year long. We’ve just got to address it.”

Tiffany Hayes, who opted out last season for COVID-19 and social justice reasons, missed the opener and will play for Atlanta after starting to practice with the team on Sunday.

The Dream are counting on rookie Aari McDonald, the No. 3 pick in this year’s WNBA draft, having a breakout performance after scoring only one point in 16 minutes against Connecticut.

Parker, a two-time WNBA MVP, had 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal in her Sky debut.

Chicago had 21 assists on 22 made field goals against Washington, led by Diamond DeShields (five assists), Courtney Vandersloot (four) and Parker.

Sky coach James Wade said the “sense of urgency is on the defensive side of the ball,” despite limiting Washington to 56 points.

“After the game, we talked a lot about our defensive mindset, so that’s how we were gauging our play,” Wade said. “(Defense) is probably something that we’re going to keep paying attention on and just trying to perform.”

–Field Level Media

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