Elena Delle Donne

Elena Delle Donne and the Sky are close to qualifying for the playoffs for the second straight season. (John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune / September 20, 2013)

A win Wednesday at Washington (15-16) will have the Sky (14-17) in prime position to make the playoffs.

Chicago enters the game tied for third in the Eastern Conference. The top four teams advance to the playoffs; fifth-place New York is just a half-game behind the Sky.

If Chicago qualifies, center Sylvia Fowles will be a major factor. The Sky are 6-4 in their last 10 games, and she recorded double-doubles in all those wins.

She's averaging 13.4 points, 10 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game this season. Add a healthy Elena Della Donne (18.1 ppg) and Epiphanny Prince (15.4 ppg) and Chicago is ready to make its playoff push.

After a six-game losing streak in July, the Sky have clawed back into contention. Sunday's 80-69 win against top-seeded Atlanta was a "much-needed" confidence booster for Fowles and her teammates.

"We had to do some gut checking and check ourselves,'' Fowles said after the win. "I think we've grown up in the last couple of games, and this is something that we want to do. We want to make it back to the playoffs."

Chicago has been riddled with injuries in 2014. Fowles missed the first 13 games of the season recovering from hip surgery. Della Donne missed more than a month because of Lyme disease, and point guard Courtney Vandersloot, the WNBA assist leader at the time, hasn't been on the court since injuring her left knee June 27.

Following Sunday's game, coach Pokey Chatman said Vandersloot is close to returning and added her team is ready for the remaining three games of the regular season.

"We know, despite all the people in and out of the lineup, injuries, people coming back, we believe we still have a huge opportunity to have some success," Chatman told the Tribune on Sunday.

jstpierre@tribune.com | @jstpierre



Wednesday: at Washington, 10:30 a.m.

Saturday: at Indiana, 6 p.m. WCIU2

Sunday: vs. San Antonio, 5 p.m. WCIU2


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