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2021 WNBA Playoffs semifinal Game 1 takeaways: Sky beat Sun in double-overtime thriller

Written by on September 28, 2021

The semifinals of the 2021 WNBA Playoffs got underway on Tuesday night, and in the first game of the night lived up to expectations. After nearly three hours of basketball, the Chicago Sky emerged with a 101-95 win over the Connecticut Sun in double overtime to take a 1-0 series lead.

Courtney Vandersloot led the way with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 18 assists to record the second triple-double in playoff history and set a new playoff assists record. Candace Parker, meanwhile, added 22 points, five rebounds and six assists in a typical all-around performance. 

Jonquel Jones, who received her MVP trophy earlier in the day, finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two blocks, but it wasn’t enough for the Sun, who struggled to get much going on offense besides making trips to the free throw line. The Sun closed the season on a 14-game winning streak, and this was the first loss for them since July 3. 

Here are some key takeaways from the game:

Game 1 becomes instant classic

The first two rounds of the playoffs provided two terrific down-to-the-wire games, and it appears we’re just going to keep that trend going. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and declare games or performances to be better than they actually were because they’re so fresh in your mind. But this isn’t one of those times. It’s no overreaction to call this game an instant classic. 

Save for a buzzer beater it had everything you can ask for in a playoff game. Stars such as Vandersloot, Jones and Parker delivered big-time performances; there were 14 lead changes and 15 ties as the two teams went back and forth; the outcome was in doubt all the way until the final few seconds of the second overtime. 

Speaking of which, this was just the fifth time in playoff history that a game has gone to double-overtime. No one is going to forget this one anytime soon — except perhaps the Sun fans who want to erase it from memory. 

Vandersloot makes history

Courtney Vandersloot has led the WNBA in assists for the past five seasons and set a number of records along the way. Now, she has a few more to add to her ever-growing list. Vandersloot put on an absolute clinic on Tuesday night, finishing with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 18 assists to record just the second triple-double in playoff history and set the playoff assists record.

Whenever the Sky really needed a bucket, Vandersloot made it happen. Down the stretch of the second overtime, in particular, Vandersloot came up big with a couple of clutch feeds. With both teams exhausted, neither could get anything going on offense, and the score was tied 93-93 with a shade over two minutes remaining. 

That’s when Vandersloot dropped a beautiful lob over the top of the defense to Parker to put the Sky in front. Next time down, she ran the pick-and-roll to perfection, freeing Stefanie Dolson for an easy layup. All of a sudden the Sky were up 97-93 and never trailed again. 

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