Sky's initial success was a direct result of the bonds developed by the fresh-faced team

LOS ANGELES — The Sky's West Coast two-game run started off on a sour note.

There were no additions to the team's long injury report, but a restaurant suggestion by Courtney Williams left the team less satisfied.

“They let him choose,” said Sky coach/general manager James Wade. “They will never let him choose again. I don't know what it was, but the food wasn't great. He apologized to them. They cut it. Next time, it will be (Kahleah Copper) or someone else's choice.”

Wade laughed as he explained Williams' failed attempt to pick a team dinner. While her dinner choices fall through, Sky's attempt to develop chemistry is a resounding success. A month into the season, the team is fourth in the league standings with a 5-3 record, and that is a direct result of the bonds formed off the field.

“They spend a lot of time with each other,” Wade said. “I love it. We spend time doing things together, and that will make it a special season for us.”

Prior to the season, Wade said he wanted to prioritize his team's off-field connections. He admitted it was something he failed to do last season, saying the team's rhythm created a blind spot.

With a mostly new roster besides Copper, Dana Evans and Ruthy Hebard, Sky's success hinged on the connections brought to court.

There are a lot of similarities between Wade's 2019 team and this version. Looking back at that roster, one of the reasons for his success is Wade's ability to unite his team with the idea that no one believed in them. As a result, they have been motivated all season by doubts.

This season, Sky has missed no opportunity to remind their audience that many expected them to fail, and they seem to be enjoying every moment of it.

“We know we can play with any team,” Williams said after Sunday's Sky road win against the New York Liberty. “We block out the noise, and we focus on us. When we win games like this, people have to create their own narrative, but we know what we're getting.”

A defense rating of 97.3 Sky is fourth in the league. Their offensive rating (98.3) is eighth, but in a clutch of six games this season, it has improved to second (123.9) behind the Las Vegas Aces.

Clutch play is one in five points in the last five minutes. The Sky have lost two of their clutch six matches. The first is to Washington Mystics. It was Marina Mabrey's second game of the season after missing pre-season. Their second loss of grip was decided by a point against Liberty, and they controlled the final possession but missed the last two shots.

The Sky's only decided loss outside of clutch time was to the Atlanta Dream.

They won games by exhausting the team and forcing them to battle it out in the fourth quarter, which plays into the gritty identity Wade has built. They have done so in the last four games with less than 10 players available and only eight in the last two.

When asked if he was surprised by his team's achievements, Wade replied simply: “No.”