While the Chicago Sky have easily been the league’s top scoring team, the WNBA-best Minnesota Lynx’s play on the defensive end has keyed their winning streak.
The Sky hope to avoid their fourth straight loss to the Lynx on Friday night when two of the league’s top players meet at Allstate Arena.
Behind Elena Delle Donne’s WNBA-high 27.2 points per game, Chicago has been the league’s most prolific offensive club with an 84.6 average – well ahead of Tulsa’s second-best 80.4 mark.
The Sky are putting up even bigger numbers at home, averaging 92.0 while winning two of three. Delle Donne has scored 34.0 per game there, including a career-best 45 in last month’s 100-96 win over Atlanta.
Delle Donne, however, is looking to regroup as Chicago (6-5) returns home for its league-low fourth home game. She had a season-low 12 points on just 3-of-10 shooting in a 77-74 win at Connecticut on July 2.
Delle Donne also had her streak of 58 consecutive made free throws end in the first quarter, falling eight shy of the WNBA record set by Eva Nemcova in the 1999 and 2000 seasons.
”Oh well. Work on the next set of streaks or something,” the two-time All-Star said.
Delle Donne had averaged 20.6 points in her previous three games versus Minnesota before scoring two in 16 minutes of a 74-64 road loss Aug. 7 in her fourth game back from a recurrence of Lyme disease.
The Lynx will be focused on slowing her down again as they go after their fourth straight win. They’ve been outstanding defensively in their last two, holding Phoenix to 33.3 percent shooting in a 71-56 victory June 27 and Seattle to 38.7 percent in an 82-57 win last Friday.
Minnesota (8-2) is allowing 67.8 points per game, on pace to be its lowest mark since giving up 67.3 in 2005.
The Lynx shot 68 percent in the second half against the Storm and their 46.7 mark overall is ahead of Chicago’s 45.4 for the WNBA’s best. Maya Moore, fifth in the league with 17.0 points per game, has heated up by scoring a combined 44 on 17-of-30 shooting in the past two.
"I feel like I could be even more efficient (on offense)," she told the team’s official website after finishing with 23 points and 11 boards versus Seattle, "but it felt good to be more efficient."
The Sky did a decent job defending the eventual MVP last season, holding her to 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting in a 75-72 home loss in May and 17 on 6-of-14 shooting in August.
Lindsay Whalen has stepped up with 19.7 points per game during Minnesota’s run in this series.
Chicago’s Allie Quigley totaled 35 points in the two meetings last season. She also scored 19 to lead the Sky’s rally from an 11-point third-quarter deficit against the Sun.
Anna Cruz, acquired from New York in April, is expected to make her Lynx debut after missing the start of the season while earning a bronze medal with Spain at the EuroBasket 2015.