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Liberty fly into Indiana looking to sweep the Fever

Indiana Fever v New York Liberty Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Line it up. The New York Liberty played host to the Dallas Wings on Monday night looking to finish up the holiday weekend in style. They were able to get the job done and sent the fans home happy with a three point win. It was the franchise’s 400th victory.

The opponent tonight will be the Indiana Fever. It’s been a rough season for Indy, but maybe they can get on a good run as we head to the back half of the season. They pulled off an upset on Saturday night as they shocked the Connecticut Sun. It was their second win of the season.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. Tip off after 7 PM.

Injuries

Natasha Howard and Jocelyn Willoughby are out, Howard probably for another couple of weeks, Willoughby for the year. Rebecca Allen is out due to overseas commitments with the Australian national team.

All clear for the Fever.

The game

New York won the first two meetings in May. This is the season finale between the two clubs.

I came across a super interesting article by Seth Berkman of the New York Times that discussed the 2016 Liberty, Fever, and other WNBA teams protesting the latest wave of police killing Black and Brown people. This quote from Nicole Lavoi really stood out to me:

“I definitely think it was the beginning of a turning point and evolution of the league to embrace female athletes and their voice."

Athletes have been working to find their voices and contribute to conversations around equality and justice, and they should continue to do their best and fight for what’s right.

If you live in New York and were on social media yesterday, you more than likely saw the flooding that took over our public transportation system. The wild weather affected the flights, which meant the Liberty were not able to fly out of NYC last night. They flew this morning, landed in Indiana a few hours ago, and will be playing tonight. This is something we’ve talked about over and over again, but the WNBA HAS to do better at giving their players suitable transportation. Treat them like the excellent professionals that they are and give them what they need to succeed.

It’s not often a top lottery pick gets waived one season into their career, but that’s what happened to Lauren Cox. The Fever waived the 2020 number three pick as she struggled to break into the rotation. She’s with the Las Vegas Aces now. It’s tough for young players to develop a groove when so much is going on around them, so the hope is Cox is able to find her footing soon.

On the inside, the Liberty will have their hands full with Teaira McCowan. McCowan is eighth in the W in rebounds, averaging almost nine boards a night. All of her offense comes close to the rim and she’s one of the best offensive rebounders in basketball to boot. Kylee Shook and Reshanda Gray will do battle with McCowan on the inside and if they control the boards, they can speed the game up and have the Fever playing faster than they’d like to (Indiana plays at the third slowest pace in the W this year).

Sabrina Ionescu is getting back into rhythm. She had another good game on Monday and tied her season high with 12 assists. For the Liberty, having another elite shot creator and maker opens up a world of opportunities for Walt Hopkins and the team. Ionescu is still on a minutes limit and with the travel issues affecting the team, look for her minutes to stay in the mid 20s once again.

Player to watch: Kelsey Mitchell

Mitchell is the top scoring option for Indy. She leads the team in usage rate and scoring with her 16 points per game. That’s good for 14th best in the WNBA this season. She’s had most of her success in the midrange area as her 48.1 percent in that range is well above league average. She takes six threes a game, but is a pretty bad shooter from deep so trading those in for more midrange attempts might be the way to unlock Indiana’s offense.

On the other side is the W’s fifth leading scorer. Betnijah Laney has been amazing all season long and will get a few MVP votes if she keeps it up. The 20 point streak to begin the year was super impressive, and just as impressive is the fact that she’s shot over 50 percent from the field in eight out of her last nine games. For such a high volume scorer, being able to maintain her efficiency and make things happen even as the other half of the 1-2 punch deals with injuries has been incredibly impressive. Laney has stepped up in every way imaginable and look for her to finish up strong as she heads into Las Vegas for her All Star debut.

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