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Liberty begin their final week in ‘wubble’ against the Sparks

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Connecticut Sun v Los Angeles Sparks Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s officially official. The New York Liberty are way down in the standings and were officially knocked out of the playoff race with a loss to the Phoenix Mercury on Saturday night. We knew this season was going to be one of examination for the Liberty, but it’s still a shame we didn’t get to see them at full strength for the duration of it.

The opponent tonight will be the Los Angeles Sparks. LA is near the top of the standings and one of the favorites to win the championship this season. They took care of business with an impressive win over the Chicago Sky on Sunday night. All they’ve got to do now is stay healthy and hope that they have a better playoff showing this time around as compared to last year.

Where to follow the game

CBS Sports Network is the place to be. Tip off after 7 PM.

Injuries

Sabrina Ionescu is still out. Paris Kea only played four minutes due to a knee injury on Saturday but is listed as probable. Kylee Shook is questionable with an ankle injury.

Sydney Weise is out while Brittney Sykes is questionable.

The game

LA won the first meeting.

For players in the bubble, being able to play at a high level while simultaneously caring for their children has been a tall task that they’ve been able to balance incredibly well. Holly Rowe of ESPN has more:

One of the women featured in that great video was Candace Parker. CP3 is all the way back after injuries derailed her 2019 season. Parker is one of the game’s greatest scorers as she puts pressure on defenders when she’s facing up or with her back to the basket. Parker has never been the greatest three point shooter, but she is shooting a career best 47.5 percent from deep this year. Her scoring profile and her court vision make her incredibly difficult to game plan against and when the Sparks begin the playoffs next week, she’ll be the biggest determinant to whether they go on a deep run or are sent out the wubble early.

Layshia Clarendon got the profile treatment in the New York Times over the Labor Day weekend, and we covered them here.

We’re celebrating a birthday today! Today is Amanda Zahui B’s big day and the Liberty center is looking to show out tonight. She only played 3:12 against the Mercury so she should be out there for a lot longer tonight. Zahui B has been a revelation this season as we really got to see her offensive game blossom in a new role. When the Liberty are back at 100 percent next season, she’ll play a big role in NY’s plans and goal of getting better.

Backing her up will be Joyner Holmes. With the Liberty wrapping up their schedule this week, Holmes will see a lot more playing time as Walt Hopkins looks to figure out what role she will play when the team is fully healthy in 2021. She had the first double double of her career on Saturday with 13 points and 13 rebounds and figures to get some time matched up against Parker. Every opportunity to grow and get better is a good one.

Player to watch: Seimone Augustus

When you can sign a good veteran and take away from your biggest rival at the same time, it’s a win-win. Augustus spend over a decade with the Minnesota Lynx and always found herself in playoff battles against the Sparks. Now that she’s on the other side, Derek Fisher and the Sparks hope that she’ll be able to play a big role in their chase for their first title since 2016. Here’s CP3:

“Mone has four championships, a couple of which have been against us. I think it’s definitely helpful to have that experience but also have her challenging us and pushing us.”

Augustus is good for around 15 minutes a night these days, but her leadership, savvy, and experience is worth a lot more.

Kia Nurse has been coming off the bench for the past few games, but might be back in the starting five if Kea isn’t good to go. Nurse still sees over 20 minutes a night so the change hasn’t been too drastic, but there’s certainly a different level of preparation when you’re coming off the bench as compared to being a starter. Either way, the Liberty will need Nurse to get it going if they want to pull off the upset.

Jam session

Last week was Beyonce’s birthday, and we missed it! The Vault deeply regrets the oversight