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Tina Charles returns to New York as Liberty host Mystics

Las Vegas Aces v New York Liberty Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Almost, but not enough. The New York Liberty were in Atlanta for the back half of a two game miniseries against the Dream and lost after going cold down the stretch.

Making the trip into Barclays for the holiday weekend will be the Washington Mystics. The Mystics had a national TV game on Tuesday night, but fell short as the Sun dominated them on the way to a double digit victory. It was Washington’s third straight loss.

Where to follow the game

CBS Sports Network is the place to be. Day time affair so we’re getting started after 1 p.m.

Injuries

Natasha Howard and Jocelyn Willoughby are out. No word on if she’ll be back today. Rebecca Allen has been dealing with plantar fasciitis and her status for this one is up in the air.

Buckle up. Alysha Clark is out for the season due to a foot injury. Myisha Hines-Allen will likely be out. Natasha Cloud is due back soon from an ankle injury, but will probably be out. Elena Delle Donne has been working to return to action following a back injury, but won't be out there today.

The game

Washington won the first meeting in May.

Road tripping. Today is the start of a five game road trip that will last through the Olympic break and end in Phoenix on August 19. Tough road ahead for the 2019 Champs.

The Liberty are coming home to an upgrade. While they were on the road, their locker room complexes were upgraded and they have a lot more room and space. Meanwhile, Kiah Stokes, one of the Liberty’s bigs, was cut on Wednesday. On Thursday, Rashandra Gray was signed to replace her. Howard, one of the league’s top bigs, remains on the sidelines with a sprained meniscus.

We’re heading to Vegas! Betnijah Laney was named to her first All Star team, and it is a well deserved honor for 2020’s Most Improved Player. Laney has improved in every aspect of her game and is one of the best scorers in the league. She’s a really good passer out of the post and although she had seven assists on Tuesday, she should have gotten even more but her teammates didn’t cash in the great looks she created for them.

She’s back, but on a pitch count. Sabrina Ionescu is back in the starting lineup, but is limited to only around 25 minutes a game. It’s not a strict 25 as she played 29 minutes on Tuesday in Atlanta, but it’s going to take some time for her to be fully back in her pre injury groove. She’ll have her hands full with Olympian and All Star Ariel Atkins. With all of the injures affecting the Mystics, she’s taken on a bigger role and has done well with the increased responsibilities. She’s getting to the free throw line at a higher clip, has kept her turnovers reasonably low, and is the team’s best three point shooter at 40.8 percent. At 24 years old, Atkins is a key part of Washington’s future and will be a great representative for Team USA in Tokyo.

Player to watch: Tina Charles

Homecoming! The Queens native is making her return to New York after the 2020 trade sent her to DC from the Liberty. Across six seasons with the Liberty, Charles averaged 18.7 points and 8.6 rebounds while being named to the All Star team four times. The best way to describe her probably comes from her friend and former teammate, Swin Cash:

Charles didn’t play in the wubble last year, so 2021 is her official debut with the Mystics. Charles has looked like an MVP with the Mystics and was named June’s Player of the Month. She leads the W in scoring at 25.5 points a night, is sixth in rebounds at nine a game, and is shooting a career best 37.3 percent from three. When she saw her former team earlier this month, she wore them out to the tune of 34 points and nine boards in 29 minutes. With this being her first game back in New York City since 2019, she’s guaranteed to put on a show for the hometown faithful.

While she’s been home, she also did some work on her latest film. She recently debuted “Charlie’s Records” at Tribeca and spoke about how the filmmaking process compares to basketball:

“Basketball is a team sport, you’re working with other individuals in the same way to make a film. You’re working with different individuals and sometimes it’s just people that you’re putting on board just for this one film, you’re working with them for the first time so just knowing about how to be conscious of how you’re speaking to someone, the respect level you have, how to be a leader. Everyone responds differently in order to attain a goal. So all of it is about the same, just what I’ve learned playing basketball and having to play with others, to win a game and just wanting to create one of the best films that you can.”

Legend on and off the court.

Without Howard, the Liberty have had to do some juggling to handle the frontcourt situation. The team released Kiah Stokes on Wednesday and brought back Reshanda Gray. Gray will serve as backup to Kylee Shook. Shook has done well substituting for Howard and has developed good chemistry with the Liberty guards throughout the season. She had trouble with Charles last time, so look for the Liberty to send some more help her way to see if that can slow down the former Liberty great.

From the Vault

A little more Tina Charles as we head into the Fourth of July

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