The Chicago Sky’s promising start has vanished, and things may not get any better until some of their key players return from injury.
New York Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer doesn’t have any excuses for his slumping club.
The statuses of Elena Delle Donne and Jessica Breland remain up in the air as Chicago hosts New York looking to avoid a fifth consecutive defeat Wednesday.
The Sky (5-5) sat atop the Eastern Conference after winning five of their first six, with Delle Donne averaging 23.0 points in that stretch. The league’s second-leading scorer has missed the last two contests, though, as she receives treatment for a flare up of Lyme disease – a condition she began suffering from in college.
”It’s just hard to tell right now (when Delle Donne will play again),” coach Pokey Chatman said. ”We’ll re-evaluate (before Wednesday’s game).”
Breland has also sat out the past two contests while she deals with a right shin issue, and center Sylvia Fowles has yet to play this season because of a hip problem.
Chatman said both would be evaluated along with Delle Donne, but she couldn’t say when either player would be in the lineup. Allie Quigley scored a career-high 18 points and Epiphanny Prince added 17 in Friday’s 79-68 loss to Washington.
Chicago, which shot only 38.2 percent, will look to bounce back by winning an eighth straight meeting with New York.
Delle Donne scored 23 points while Breland added 13 and 11 boards in a 79-65 victory at Madison Square Garden on May 17. Tina Charles had 15 points and 12 boards but went 5 of 13 from the field for the Liberty (3-8), losers of six of seven overall.
They have dropped three straight after being swept in a home-and-home series with Connecticut, falling 83-75 on Friday and 76-72 on Sunday. Cappie Pondexter scored 21 points in the latest contest.
New York hasn’t lived up to expectations after acquiring Charles from the Sun on draft day, and Laimbeer has an idea why that’s the case.
”We are very frustrated, but it’s earned frustration,” Laimbeer said. ”We don’t do the little things. We know we are not the most talented basketball team, and we also know that we if don’t have all our players playing well we are going to struggle."
The Liberty will need to step up their play with a tough stretch ahead. They’ll play a home-and-home set with East-leading Atlanta on Friday and Sunday before hosting Chicago on June 27.
"We know that if we get everyone playing well we are going to be very competitive," Laimbeer said. "It’s a fine line, and right now we are on the bottom half of the line.”