Last season, the Las Vegas Aces stunned the Chicago Sky in the second round of the WNBA playoffs, eliminating them on an absurd last-second heave by Dearica Hamby. On Sunday, during opening weekend of the 2020 season, the two squads met again. This time, the Sky were the ones who used some late heroics to get the win.
Allie Quigley did not have one of her best games, going 4 of 12 from the field for 10 points, but Chicago head coach James Wade had faith in his veteran guard, drawing up the last play of the game for her anyway. She repaid him with a clutch side-step 3-pointer to complete the Sky's fourth-quarter comeback for an 88-86 win, helping them start the season 1-0.
While everyone is focused on the shot, and for good reason, it's worth taking a closer look at the action the Sky used to get Quigley open in the first place. If you're familiar with coaching, or just watching a lot of basketball, you might recognize it as a hammer action.
It starts with Quigley inbounding the ball from the sideline, and the Sky set up in a box formation, with a player on each elbow and each block. Kahleah Copper initiates the play by setting a cross-screen for Stefanie Dolson.
This is just a decoy, however, to get the defense moving and thinking. Next, Copper cuts up to the top of the key, running around a double-screen from Courtney Vandersloot and Gabby Williams.
Vandersloot then pops out to the wing, and Copper swings the ball over to her point guard. Williams, meanwhile, slides down to set a screen and give Vandersloot some space.
Vandersloot then begins to drive baseline, continuing to draw the attention of the Aces defense. As you can see in this frame, four different defenders are focused on her. With Vegas worried about Vandersloot getting into the paint, Dolson sneaks over to set a backscreen for Quigley.
Vandersloot, who has been looking to pass the entire time, hits Quigley in the corner. In a perfect world, Dolson's screen would have wiped out Quigley's defender, and with all of the other Aces focused on Vandersloot, Quigley would have been wide open. Jackie Young, however, does a good job fighting through the screen, and is able to get out and bother the veteran.
But even though Young did her part to make the shot much more difficult, Quigley is just too good. She calmly pump fakes and takes a dribble to the side, and rises up to bury the 3.
Quigley has long been one of the premier shooters in the league, and this shot is yet another reminder.