Eastern confERENCE semifinals
Sky vs. Dream
G1: at Dream, 6:30 p.m. Friday (NBA)
G2: at Sky, 6 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2)
G3*: at Dream, 6:30 p.m. Tues. (NBA)
* if necessary
Updated: September 23, 2014 6:34AM
When the Sky entered the WNBA playoffs last season, they hadn’t faced much adversity. Boosted by rookie star Elena Delle Donne, Sylvia Fowles and Epiphanny Prince, the Sky went 24-10 and breezed to the best record in the Eastern Conference.
But they fell behind the experienced Indiana Fever by 13 points at halftime of their playoff opener, never recovered from the first real challenge they faced and eventually were swept out of the postseason.
The Sky haven’t lacked adversity or challenges this season. And they’re confident that will help them when they face the Atlanta Dream in the best-of-three Eastern Conference semifinals that open Friday in Atlanta.
‘‘We learned [last year] that what happens in the first part of the season doesn’t really matter anymore in the playoffs,’’ Delle Donne said after the Sky’s regular-season finale Sunday. ‘‘Obviously, everything kind of went right for us in the regular season. Then we got to the playoffs, hit adversity for the first time and weren’t able to handle it.
‘‘This year, it’s been the opposite. So I’m hoping we’ll see opposite
results, as well.’’
As the Sky (15-19) trudged through a season of difficulty, they’ve maintained everything they’ve been through would help them in the playoffs — assuming they got that far. The thought has been that anything the playoffs could throw at them wouldn’t be as difficult as a 34-game regular season that saw every starter miss time and a slump that almost knocked them out of postseason contention.
Now they have their full roster together and get to start fresh, confident they will be more able to deal with the ups and downs of the playoffs.
‘‘It’s been a journey, a testing journey at that,’’ Fowles said. ‘‘Through all our trials and tests, I felt like we overcame a lot, and it just brought us together as a unit.’’
That should help against the Dream, who finished first in the Eastern Conference at 19-15 and are led by Angel McCoughtry, who averaged 18.5 points. To beat the Dream, the Sky know they will have to contain McCoughtry.
They also know the Dream could present some adversity, but they believe they will be ready to handle it.
‘‘I’m banking on it because that’s what I’ve witnessed,’’ Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. ‘‘It’s not like you have to panic. They just dial it up and get through it.’’