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Liberty face tall task against league leading Storm

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Seattle Storm v Dallas Wings Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

That’s the way it goes. The New York Liberty were looking to earn their second win of the 2020 season, but ran into a buzzsaw and got dominated by 30 against the Minnesota Lynx on Saturday evening. The team has been off for the past two days, which has to be a relief for Walt Hopkins and his young squad.

The opponent tonight will be the Seattle Storm. If you’re looking for an early favorite to win the 2020 Championship, here you go. The Storm are a league best 10-1 and are coming off a dominant 23 point win against the Connecticut Sun on Sunday afternoon.

Where to follow the game

Fox Sports Go for us tonight (YES Network will be joining after Yankees postgame). It’s a basketball party so this section of the club opens up after 10 PM.

Injuries

No Sabrina Ionescu.

Morgan Tuck is questionable with a knee injury.

The game

Seattle won the first matchup to begin the season.

Winning is great, but how you win can tell you even more. The Storm are 10-1 and are outscoring teams by almost 17 points per 100 possessions. They’re the league’s best offense, stingiest defense, and have depth and experience up and down the roster.

I think it’s safe to say to Breanna Stewart is all the way back. Stewie was out all of 2019 with an Achilles injury and made her return to the W in the wubble. Stewart is fourth in the league in scoring a shade under 19 points a night on a .514/.462/.875 shooting split. Not to be outdone, Stewart is 11th in rebounding as well. With Stewart back at full strength, Seattle has a great chance of bringing the title back to the Pacific Northwest.

It’ll make for a challenging night for Amanda Zahui B. Zahui B’s shot hasn’t been there the past two games and she’ll have to go crazy from three and win the rebounding battle against Stewart if the Liberty want to have a shot at pulling off the upset. It’s a tall task, but Zahui B has worked hard to contribute on all fronts this year and will be motivated to put on a great showing against the league’s best player.

Jazmine Jones is making the most out of her playing time. The rookie played over 20 minutes for the third straight game on Saturday and led the team in scoring. Without Ionescu, the Liberty have struggled to find perimeter scoring so they’re going to need a huge game out of Jones tonight. Same goes for Kia Nurse, who is still working her way back from the opening day ankle injury she suffered against the Storm. Even amidst her shooting woes, she needs to keep firing. Stay active, keep working, and the results will come.

Player to watch: Sue Bird

After a knee injury kept her out of action for two weeks, Bird returned to action on August 12 against the Atlanta Dream. Bird played a season high 28 minutes against the Sun on Sunday and hasn’t crossed the 30 minute plateau yet this year. When you win big like the Storm do, your big guns don’t have to play heavy minutes so the team has a built in advantage to keep her fresh throughout the year. Bird has been excellent when she’s played and is shooting a career best 53.6 percent from three point range. As one of the greatest point guards in basketball history, Bird has left an indelible mark on the sport. Here’s Kyrie Irving speaking about Bird in 2018:

“For me, when I think about Sue, I think about management of the game. Her bounce passes and over-the-top no-looks that she throws that drops into bigs’ hands ... When she was playing with Lauren Jackson way back when, you used to see them run pick-and-rolls all the time. She used to drop GEMS.”

Appreciate our legends while they’re still here with us.

Layshia Clarendon will run the show for New York. They played a season low 21 minutes against the Lynx after playing a season high 37 against the Fever the game before. With this season being so condensed and injuries starting to pile up around the league, keeping the minutes low for one game and having two days off afterwards will help get Clarendon get through the season.

From the Vault

The last time we saw Bird in the playoffs, this happened