October 15, 2021
Game 3: Postgame
Sky 86, Mercury 50
Q. Candace, Kahleah [Copper] talked about one aspect of her game she wanted to improve on was her three-point shooting, and I know you guys shoot together. What have you seen from her that was like a commitment to getting better there and how have you seen her grow that aspect of her game?
CANDACE PARKER: Yeah, I think -- well, the person to my right [Allie Quigley], one of the best shooters in the entire world, so seeing her in the gym, I think it's inspired us. We have a little shooting group, me, Diamond, Z [AzurÃ¡ Stevens] and Kah[leah] because Sloot [Courtney Vandersloot] and Allie are selfish at the other end and they don't like us shooting down there with them, so we developed our own little shooting group, and we just get up extra shots.
It's about commitment and it's about putting in the time, and when you see somebody like the person to my right who is the best in her craft consistently getting in the gym, I think it inspires us.
Q. Candace, the Mercury set a WNBA record for lowest field goal percentage in WNBA Finals tonight. What did you see from the defense where you were able to score a Mercury team that scored 91 points last game?
CANDACE PARKER: You know, they're a great team, but I think we came in with a defensive effort tonight, just trying to make things difficult, make sure that we're contesting shots, and I think our team did a good job of rotating and helping each other. Listen, we're not going to do that every night in terms of they're a great team, so they're going to come out on Sunday, but really our job is just to try to make it as hard as possible, honestly, and live with the results if we're contesting shots and making it difficult.
Q. Continuing on the defensive theme, Coach talked about the communication and help tonight. Is that easier when you're at home, to sort of get that communication and defensive effort?
DIAMOND DeSHIELDS: Not necessarily. I mean, Wintrust [Arena] was really loud. It was really loud. We had a sellout crowd. They were involved. I can't really say that it's easier. I think that the thing that helped was our preparation. We had really good prep the past day or so and coming into tonight, so I think we were all just locked in.
Q. Allie and Diamond, just on Kahleah's evolution, did you notice any differences in her going into the bubble season?
ALLIE QUIGLEY: Honestly, I think that she had just years of overseas experience, just getting better every single year, and she was just patient, waiting for her opportunity, and I think she knew going into the bubble that she was going to have that opportunity. She just took advantage of it. She was ready. I think the main thing was she was ready and she was prepared for it.
Q. Diamond, this is one of the best games we've seen you have this season. Did anything feel different about tonight?
DIAMOND DeSHIELDS: It's the Finals. I mean, it's the Finals. I don't think anybody wants to come out and play bad in the Finals or do something that could negatively impact the team. I've had my fair share of ups and downs this season, but I prepared, my teammates picked me up each and every day, and I just felt good coming into tonight that I was going to just focus on my defense and my effort, and whatever else happened was just like extra.
Q. Candace, you're on the verge of as part of this team of winning a WNBA championship with two different franchises. What does that mean to you? Secondly, having James Wade as a head coach being one of the few Black coaches on the verge of also winning a WNBA championship, what does that mean to you, as well?
CANDACE PARKER: You know, on the verge, obviously finishing this game feels good. This is right where we want to be is to have an opportunity. I want us to enjoy this game today, and then on [Sunday] we've got to refocus because they're a great team.
You know, I think the biggest thing is not getting ahead of ourselves. So I would like to delay that response.
Secondly, I think it just says a lot about our league just in terms of it doesn't matter where you come from or what you look like or all of that. You're capable of having an opportunity to lead a team. So I think that speaks volumes of where we're at, and to do it in Chicago, I think that's the biggest thing. This city has embraced obviously people that have come from here, but also I think James Wade has sincerely embraced -- Sloot is a devout Chicagoan as well, so I think the city really embraces that and I think that'll be huge for James.
Q. You talked last week when you guys won the Game 4 against Connecticut, Game 4s haven't always been good to you in the Finals. Having been in this exact position before when you were with LA, how do you take that? Do you sort of ruminate on that a little bit or not? Also could you comment on something James said, which is a game like this is kind of a dream come true to be able to rest people a little bit before the next game.
CANDACE PARKER: Yeah, Game 4. I think it's crucial for us to continue to have the same mentality that we had coming into this game and even greater because it's going to be really hard, and if we think it's going to be easy, that's a lie. Like there are great players on the other end. Just as you said, we got to rest, so did they. We have to come out with a defensive mentality and try to make things as difficult as possible and play our game. We can't be hesitant. We have to go out there and play deliberate both on the offensive end and defensively.
Q. Candace, we've spoken a ton about Kahleah's ability as a scorer but I'm curious if you can explain her value defensively and how she's contributed to turning the Sky around defensively after years of this team struggling on that end of the floor.
CANDACE PARKER: I think it's huge for her to have the games that she's had and then also be tasked with defending Diana. I think sometimes those contributions on that end of the court get overlooked, and I think we depend on her athleticism, as we depend on Diamond's athleticism, and me and Allie are not over the hill yet, but we've got to use more of our IQ a little bit. So I think we have a great mixture where she's able to go out and defend and then everybody behind is just reacting. We try to have a solid team defense, and her and Diamond are the ones that really bring that athleticism and being able to stay in place so we can use our IQ.
Q. What was it like on the court today? We kept hearing there was a sold-out crowd, but what was it like to get that energy from the Wintrust Arena crowd?
DIAMOND DeSHIELDS: It was pretty surreal, even just down the stretch and into the fourth quarter, the crowd was just so engaged. I've never been in Wintrust with that type of energy and that amount of people, so I can definitely say it was a first for me, and I'm sure obviously Allie, Candace just got here, but yeah, it was cool, man. It was like, that's a playoff environment I feel like. That's what you dream about. That's what you dream about. That's what you work so hard to play in front of.
Shout-out to the city for coming out. Shout-out to the fans, everybody that showed love tonight. We're going to need that same energy on Sunday.
Q. Allie, winning tonight gives you the incredible opportunity of clinching a championship on your home court in front of your fans. How would you describe that opportunity, what you guys have a chance to do on Sunday?
ALLIE QUIGLEY: I mean, it's huge. It's what you dream of. We put ourselves in this position, so we've got to take advantage of this opportunity. Just do the little things, just go play by play, moment by moment, be detailed, work hard, just want it more than them. I mean, we've just got to do what we're supposed to do, nothing out of ourselves, just be our best.
Q. Diamond, in terms of defense, it looked like -- Coach Brondello commented that you were hedging very high on the high pick-and-roll and then it looked like you were pressing on the wings. After Game 2 and after the Playoffs where teams have had success kind of in the slip screen in the pick-and-roll, how did you change up your defensive attack, if at all?
DIAMOND DeSHIELDS: Yeah, it was just -- defense is something you've got to want to do, so I knew coming into tonight, that was what I wanted to do. Like I wanted to guard everything. I wanted to guard everybody. I wanted to give Kah a break. I didn't want her chasing DT around all game. I told her when I came in that I'd take her so she could be aggressive offensively. Like we had a strategy, we prepped, so I just felt like I needed to have a good defensive game.
Like I said, my teammates have picked me up through a lot, so I can't say that I would have been able to do it without them.
Q. Brittney Griner was 1-of-8 at halftime. How important was it -- she had some good looks but they didn't go down. You guys were contesting a lot of shots. How important was that to building that big lead?
CANDACE PARKER: You know, I think they're great players. Brittney is a great player, so all you try to do is just try to make things difficult. I think our post players did a great job, Z, Astou [Ndour-Fall], Stef [Dolson]. In our rotations we try to limit their reads and try to make it as hard as possible. I think it's just with her, it's just trying to make it as difficult as possible, try to contest without fouling and live with the results.
Q. Allie, with injuries that have happened to both you and Candace and with the whole team throughout the season, it seemed like from afar that you guys were never truly able to find that rhythm. What does it feel like to get to this point of the season when the lights are brightest to really have that rhythm play out?
ALLIE QUIGLEY: Yeah, honestly, that injury part of the season feels like another season ago, so I think that when we finally got everyone healthy, it was something that this is what we saw our season looking like, and I think just having everyone healthy gave us confidence, knowing that, okay, well, we are full strong, now let's see what we can do.
Q. Diamond, Coach Wade had mentioned that he wanted more from the bench after what happened in Game 2. Is there anything he told you in particular to get you, to spark you to the performance you had tonight? Is there anything he said either in practice or in pregame tonight?
DIAMOND DeSHIELDS: I mean, he just told me that he just needed me to make plays defensively. He told me that I can't be the one that gets scored on. We can't afford for me to make those defensive mistakes. He kind of challenged me to just step up tonight on the defensive end and not worry about my offense.
I tried to just lead with that first.
Q. Candace, coming off of your own Defensive Player of the Year receiving, can you speak a little bit on AzurÃ¡ Stevens? I know you talked all season about her growth and what you saw potentially in your pairing. Talk about both of you guys defensively stepping up in the middle of the floor to guard the Mercury's quick guards.
CANDACE PARKER: Well, Z, she's really come along. You talk about injuries, coming into the season, she was limited with minutes, and all of us have seen glimpses both offensively and defensively in training camp as well as throughout practice. You guys are able to see what we've been seeing for a while, and it's great that she's coming along and gives us that energy, that athleticism, that length and that ability to like stay in place. I think that's huge.
We rely so heavily on team defense, but when you're able to have somebody on the floor that can hold their own like Z does, it makes everything easier for everybody else.
Q. Diamond, I know it's been a difficult up-and-down year, and I just wanted to know for you, winning this championship, if it happens on Sunday, what will that mean to you in your career, all the time you've been here in Chicago and through all the trials and tribulations here in Chicago?
DIAMOND DeSHIELDS: I mean, it would be really special. I remember when James got here and just talking to him about what we wanted to accomplish. Having the players that we had, obviously having Candace here now, it would be an incredible accomplishment, not only just because we won but because of who we could do it with. This group is really special, so yeah, it would mean a lot.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports