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Liberty face another tall task against the Mercury

Washington Mystics v Phoenix Mercury Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

The Big 3 showed out at Barclays Center on Wednesday. However, it wasn’t the Brooklyn Nets putting on a show this time. The Phoenix Mercury showed out and came away with a convincing 27 point win over the New York Liberty. It was the team’s third straight loss and their hold on a playoff spot is barely there.

The Mercury will be in town a little bit longer before they get back on the road. They’ve won five straight games and are hot on the Minnesota Lynx’s heels for fourth place. Buckle up.

Where to follow the game

CBS Sports Network is the place to be. Primetime tip so the party’s getting started after 8 PM.

Injuries

Sami Whitcomb and Jocelyn Willoughby are out. Jazmine Jones is listed as probable.

Brittney Griner had to leave Wednesday’s game late after she suffered a left leg injury. She was diagnosed with a left ankle lateral sprain and is now listed as out of tonight’s game. Bria Hartley is out.

The game

NY took game one and Phoenix got game two.

Let’s start with something good. Crystal Robinson was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor on Wednesday night. Let’s watch her speech below

The team also took a trip to Citi Field to watch the New York Mets take on the San Francisco Giants last night as well.

The Liberty have been doing a great job of connecting with the city since they moved back to town and the more they stay involved, the more connection they’ll make with the community. And, go Mets!

For a team that’s fighting for their playoff lives, you can’t afford to start off as slowly as they do sometimes. Walt Hopkins lit into his team in the postgame after they got down 16 points at the end of the first quarter. They fought back and showed heart in getting it close before Phoenix pulled away late, but when you start slow, you have to spend the rest of the game scrambling.

Coming back from an injury late in the year is always tough, and when you add on the fact that it’s in the middle of a playoff chase AND your first year with a new team, it becomes even more difficult. It’s been a pretty rocky return for Natasha Howard, and the hope is that the more she plays and further away she is from the knee injury, the better she’ll be. Assuming Griner is limited, Howard will still have a tough time inside dealing with Brianna Turner. BT pulled down 15 rebounds and made all of her shots at the rim. Turner and Griner allows Phoenix to have one of the largest frontcourts in the W, next to Connecticut.

Player to watch: Skylar Diggins-Smith

You need great guard play if you want to win championships, and Diggins-Smith is one of the best in the sport today. She didn’t get much run in the Olympics, but now that she’s back in the W, she’s turned it up. Even with the ankle injury she suffered against Indiana that limited her to one minute of game time, she’s averaged 18 points and almost five assists a night on a .627/.647/.714 split in 25 minutes a night. With the Mercury on fire the way that they are, slowing down Diggins-Smith becomes even more daunting for opponents.

Didi Richards will likely get the Diggins-Smith assignment when she’s on the court. Richards has been a bolt of energy coming off the bench for the Liberty and her shot is coming along nicely. It’s been an excellent rookie season for Richards and now that she is

During the game, I mentioned Sabrina Ionescu should cut down on her three point attempts. That might have been a bit unfair as she’s shooting a respectable 34.1 percent from deep this year and she went 0-9 from deep Wednesday. Shots at the rim typically are better off since you’re more likely to draw contact from them and if you can get downhill and put pressure on opposing D’s, the better your offense will be. She’s averaged almost seven threes a night post Olympic break and is only shooting 26 percent on those shots. She’ll figure it out so we can’t worry too much about it.

From the Vault

BG has thrown it down a few times in her storied career. Let’s check em out

More reading: Swish Appeal