Three to go. Now that the New York Liberty are eliminated from the playoff chase, we're just counting down to next year. They lost on Friday night to the Connecticut Sun to push their losing streak to four games. There's still a lot to play for, so Katie Smith's squad will be ready to give a good effort tonight.
The opponent tonight will be the Washington Mystics. As Finals runnerups from a year ago, Washington came in to this season with a lot to prove and a desire to make it back to the top of the mountain. They beat the Dallas Wings on Saturday night to extend their winning streak to three games, but did allow a large lead to melt away in the process. They'll be looking to clean that up tonight.
Where to follow the game
NBATV for the out of towners, Fox Sports Go for the locals. Tip off after 7.
Asia Durr is likely out for this one. Tina Charles was given a rest day on Saturday, so she'll probably be back for this contest.
Kristi Toliver is out, and with the way things are sounding, she might not be ready for the playoffs.
Washington took game one and game two.
The way you win games can tell you a lot about how good a team is. If you're always having to eek out close wins night after night, it might be a sign that you've got a lot of luck on your side. However, if you dominate night after night, it clearly establishes you as the best of the best. For the Mystics, they've outscored teams by almost 15 points per 100 possessions, more than three times better than the next closest team (the Las Vegas Aces). Being able to dominate foes every night is a sign of just how good and deep Washington is, which makes them the favorites when the playoffs begin soon.
When you're out of contention, the plan moves to developing talent for next year. For the Liberty, that means giving Han Xu some real playing time. The rookie got her first real bit of playing time in a month against the Connecticut Sun and looked fairly decent out there. Bria Hartley spoke about Xu's game to Jackie Powell of High Post Hoops and said:
“I think her size could definitely help the team getting to the rim and blocking shots. [Han’s] young. She still has a lot to learn. That could be why she hasn’t been out there yet, but she’s going to learn, she’s going to improve and we hope to see her in the future.”
With one week to go in the year, now would be the perfect time to give her a test run.
How do you solve a problem like Elena Delle Donne? EDD can score in the post, score from three point range, create her own shot, and is a superstar you can trust with the game on the line. Assuming she's back, Tina Charles will look to keep up with Delle Donne's output.
Player to watch: Natasha Cloud
Earlier this summer, I wrote about the activism and bravery that WNBA players routinely demonstrate. One of the people that best exemplify this is Natasha Cloud. She's been a proponent of gun reform in DC and spoke to Major Garrett of CBS News about it
“I’ve been blessed with this beautiful career and blessed to be here in D.C. with the Mystics that allow us to use our voice and our platform. So I use my God-given platform to bring a media blackout...when after the game we don’t discuss anything but the issue at hand
DC loves Cloud, and the more she lives and plays in DC, the more she will make a positive impact.
On the court, Cloud has stepped up in Kristi Toliver's absence. The offense hasn't missed a beat without Toliver, and while Cloud's three point shooting is down from last season, she's gotten to the free throw line more often and cut down her turnovers.
Kia Nurse will look to spark the Liberty attack. The second half has been a step back from her All Star caliber first half, but she's had a positive 2019 overall. A strong finish will bode well for her as the Liberty move in to 2020 and beyond.
Tomorrow is another holiday. Which holiday you ask? Beyonce's birthday! So in honor of our favorite person here at Netsdaily, we'll have an extended jam session
- New York Liberty Game Notes - New York Liberty
- The W.N.B.A. Is Putting On Some of the Best Pro Basketball in America - Kim Tingley - New York Times Sunday Magazine