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Candace Parker relishes the moment as Sky advance to WNBA Finals


For just the second time in franchise history and the first time since 2014, the Chicago Sky are headed to the WNBA Finals after a 79-69 win over the Connecticut Sun.

Not even a 25-point, 11-rebound performance from league MVP Jonquel Jones could delay the Sun’s elimination as the Sky were once again led by outstanding performances by Courtney Vandersloot and Candace Parker.

Vandersloot had a team-high 19 points alongside four rebounds and assists each. She is now tied with Ticha Penicheiro for sixth all-time on the WNBA Playoffs assists list with 204. Meanwhile Parker neared a triple-double with 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. It’s just the fifth time that a WNBA player has scored at least 15 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and two steals in the playoffs. Parker is the only player in league history to have done it twice.

Kahleah Copper was also unstoppable Wednesday night, contributing 18 points, six rebounds and two assists.

“We felt [we could make it to the WNBA Finals] from the beginning of the playoffs,” Sky coach/general manager James Wade said postgame. “We were a very confident group. If I said it out loud people probably would have looked at me strangely, but here we are.”

The Sky are the first No. 6 seed to make the WNBA Finals.

They’ll face the winner of the Aces-Mercury series, which will play a Game 5 on Friday.

Many have attributed the Sky’s journey to this point to the “Candace Parker effect.” The team suffered a nightmarish start, with Parker going down early on in the season with an injury. But they never gave up.

Parker’s return marked the team’s turnaround as they went from 2-7 to 9-7, setting a franchise record for consecutive wins with seven. They mustered out a 16-16 record in the regular season and found themselves the sixth seed in the playoffs.

For Parker, it means a lot to be able to bring success with her to her hometown.

“I grew up playing in front of these people,” she told ESPN’s Holly Rowe after the game.

Hometown hero she might be, but Parker attributes the success to a team effort.

“It really is emotional. We’re not done yet, we don’t want it to be done yet but you sometimes have to stop and think and really appreciate this moment.”

“This is a special group,” Parker said later in the postgame press conference. “The way you face adversity has built our character and revealed it. All of us believed going into the playoffs that we would be sitting here.”