Sky could clinch a spot in the Commissioner’s Cup finals with a win tomorrow

The Sky are closing in on an opportunity to play for another championship.

Not their second WNBA championship, but the Commissioner’s Cup championship game with a $500,000 prize pool on the table.

“We’re aware of every game,” Azurá Stevens said. “We’re taking it game by game. Obviously, we want to get the extra money, but the goal is to win a [WNBA] championship.”

In its second year, the in-season competition features 61 games across the league. Last year, the Seattle Storm beat the Connecticut Sun 79-57 in the inaugural title game.

At 8-0, the Las Vegas Aces have already clinched a spot in the finals.

The Sky are undefeated in tournament play (7-0) and have three Cup games remaining, beginning Friday night against the Atlanta Dream. Behind the Sky in the standings are the Sun (4-2).

If the Sky win at two more games, they clinch a spot in the final, irregardless of how the Sun do.

The easiest way for the Sky to clinch a spot in the finals is with a win Friday night and a Sun loss.

The championship will be played July 26, with the home court going to the team with the highest winning percentage in Cup play.

When WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert first announced the in-season competition ahead of the 2021 season, the intent was to create a greater incentive for players during the regular season, which would be appeal to fans. In the tournament’s second year, the league added a new civic engagement platform.

Each team’s chosen nonprofit has received $2,000 for every Cup win and $500 for each loss. The Sky partnered with Chicago nonprofit My Block My Hood My City, which has accumulated a $14,000 donation for the seven wins.

Despite all that’s at stake, players’ and teams’ opinion on the game varies. After the Aces clinched their spot, Dearica Hamby told reporters she wasn’t aware which games were Cup games. In contrast, the Storm discussed the tournament frequently last season.

“I’ve been in the league 10 years, and my goal has always been winning championships,” Sky general manager/coach James Wade said before the June 5 victory against the Washington Mystics. “Not to undervalue the Commissioner’s Cup, I would love to win it. It just has not been in my psyche for that long.”

Regardless of who meets the Aces in the Cup title game, it will give fans a taste of a potential WNBA finals matchup. All three teams sit atop the WNBA leaderboards, with the Aces pegged as a lock to play for the championship in September.

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