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Unity Day: Liberty host the Sun to wrap up the 1st half of the WNBA season

Connecticut Sun v Las Vegas Aces Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A valuable lesson was learned. What lesson? That lesson is that when a team has to fly across states the morning of a game and play the same night, it's not going to end well for them. The New York Liberty found out the hard way on Friday night as they fell to the Indiana Fever in a frustrating loss. More on their adventure in a minute.

The opponent today will be the Connecticut Sun. Curt Miller and friends are near the top of the standings again and figure to be a tough out in the playoffs. They helped the cause with a win against the reeling Atlanta Dream on Friday night. The Sun are only 0.5 games behind the Las Vegas Aces for second best record in the W and a win today plus a Vegas loss will be a nice boost for them as they head into the break.

Where to follow the game

YES Network and ESPN3 have us covered. Tip off after 2 p.m.

Injuries

Natasha Howard and Jocelyn Willoughby are out. Rebecca Allen is with the Australian Olympic team and out.

Alyssa Thomas is out.

The game

Connecticut won the first game in June.

The travel situation is out of control. As the Liberty were trying to fly out of Indianapolis and get back home to Brooklyn, their plane got delayed again. At one point, it looked like the Libs wouldn’t arrive till five hours before tip-off! It got bad enough that team governor Joe Tsai had to intervene and got the squad home on a commercial flight. How he did it? Don’t know the details.

We say it every year, and it’s true every year: WNBA players deserve better from the league. They are professionals of the highest order and deserve pay and accommodations that match it. It shouldn’t take a revolt from the players and fans to get them good flights home. Hopefully this is the last time players have to put up with something like this. Tsai says he’s going to fix it “for good,” but as we wrote Saturday, it won’t be easy.

Today’s a big day for the team. They’ll be hosting “Unity Day” at Barclays as they’ll be focusing on health disparities affecting women of color that occur because of structural racism. Before the game, the team will be offering free mammograms and health screenings to members of the community. Afterwards, they’ll be broadcasting a panel that discusses health disparities faced by Black women.

Star time! The ESPYs were in our neck of the woods last night, and Betnijah Laney, Sabrina Ionescu, and Didi Richards made their way to the event. It’s great to see the Liberty get some shine on a national level like that.

Gonna be a tall task for the Liberty this afternoon. When she saw them in June, Jonquel Jones lit the Liberty up to the tune of 31 points and 13 rebounds. 10 of her 12 field goal makes were practically at the rim as she proved to be too much to handle for Kylee Shook and Kiah Stokes. Shook and Reshanda Gray will have to battle it out with Jones on the inside and provide some more resistance at the rim.

This one might get a little sloppy. The teams are one and two in turnovers this season. Part of the Liberty’s struggles on Friday were due to their sloppiness, and it’s cost them their fair share of games this season. If the Liberty are careful with the ball, they’ll be able to get the game going at their pace. They play at the second fastest pace in the W this year while the Sun are the slowest.

Conversely, Connecticut is tops in rebounding this year while the Liberty are the second worst rebounding team in the W.

When the Sun get back from the Olympic break, they’ll be playing a high stakes game. They’ll be taking on the Seattle Storm in the Commissioner’s Cup championship game on August 12. Each player on the winning team gets $30,000 and the game’s MVP will get an additional $5k. The Storm and Sun are contenders to win the title this year so this promises to be an awesome game.

Add one more ticket to Vegas. Sami Whitcomb was invited to the three point shootout and will be one of the contestants for the event which will take place during halftime of the All Star Game. Joining her will be Jonquel Jones, Allie Quigley, and Jewell Loyd. Whitcomb is shooting a career best 44.7 percent from deep this season so look for her to put on a show in front of the Vegas crowd.

One last game with the minutes restriction. Sabrina Ionescu has gotten better and better each game she’s been back from her ankle injury.

Some friends of ours will be in the house this afternoon. The Brooklyn Brigade will be in the house cheering on the Liberty today as they head into the All Star break. The team has exceeded all expectations this season and the Brigade is always a good time. Here’s to more appearances in the second half and maybe even a playoff berth to go along with it.

Player to watch: DeWanna Bonner

For any championship contender, you need at least two players who can go and get their own shot. Jonquel Jones is one, and Bonner is the other. Bonner is heading to Vegas as she was named to the All Star game for the fourth time in her career. She punched her ticket by averaging around 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists. She kept things steady while JJ was overseas and you always reward stars when they play up to their usual standard. She struggled in the first meeting as she only went 4-12. Her jumper wasn’t working that night as she only made one shot outside of the restricted area. Bonner has been getting to the rim more this year and if she’s able to do so today, it’ll put a lot of extra pressure on the Liberty.

Bonner will be going up against her All Star teammate. Betnijah Laney will be joining Bonner, Jonquel and Brionna Jones in Vegas Wednesday night for the game. It’s her first time there and likely won’t be the last for the Queen Bee. She is currently fifth in the W this season in scoring and she’ll need all of her skills today after the Sun held her to 4-12 the first meeting and ended her 20 point streak.

From the Vault

No real setup here. I just feel like we can all do with some Janet Jackson today. Can never go wrong with that!

More reading: Swish Appeal