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Rebecca Allen makes season debut as Liberty host Sun

Connecticut Sun v New York Liberty Photo by Steven Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images

Keep growing and the results will follow. The New York Liberty hosted the Dallas Wings on Sunday afternoon at Barclays Center, but got down by 10 late in the third quarter and couldn’t overcome it. Their loss was their third straight and their record currently stands at 1-3.

The opponent tonight will be the Connecticut Sun. Curt Miller and friends are hoping to take that final step and claim their first WNBA championship. They earned their first win of the 2022 campaign after beating the Los Angeles Sparks on Saturday night in Connecticut.

Where to follow the game

YES Network app has us covered. Tip after 7 p.m.

Injuries

Didi Richards is dealing with a hamstring injury. She’s out for this one. Jocelyn Willoughby will miss this one with a left knee injury.

DeWanna Bonner is back from overseas play and is expected to make her season debut tonight. Courtney Williams will be making her Sun return after serving a two game suspension for getting into a fight at Tenders and Bites last year.

The game

The Liberty won the first meeting on Opening Night.

The key to the Liberty win on Opening Night was the work Natasha Howard did in defending reigning MVP, Jonquel Jones. Jones only went 6-17 from the field as Howard and the team’s excellent defense made Jones work real hard for every shot he attempted

If the Liberty can make life hard on Howard again, they’ll have a great chance to pull off the upset once again. It takes a team approach to slow down the MVP, and look for the Liberty to throw the kitchen sink at Jones.

The Liberty will have to work hard to win the battle of the boards, and that might be a cue for Han Xu to get into the lineup earlier. Han has done well in her minutes over the past two games as her offensive touch gives the Liberty another dimension on offense. She still has a ways to go on defense, but we’ll see how the coaching staff utilize her tonight. Stef Dolson has been dealing with foul trouble the past few games, but all it takes is one good game to turn things around. If the Libs can remain close or even win the board battle, they’ll be able to control the pace and get some easy buckets in transition.

When Sabrina Ionescu is at her best, she’s attacking downhill and putting plenty of pressure on the opposing defense. After a slow start in the first game, she was able to figure out the Sun defense and attacked the basket frequently. When Ionescu is locked in, she plays like one of the best guards in the league and plays at a superstar level. The Liberty will need that tonight

The Liberty went small last Friday against the Indiana Fever, but doing that against the Sun may not work. The Sun are arguably the biggest team in the W, and the return of Bonner makes them even bigger. At 6’4, Bonner presents size troubles for the Liberty and she’s the team’s second scoring option after J. Jones. The Liberty will try to bait Bonner into taking threes as she’s only a career 29.9 percent shooter from downtown in her WNBA career.

For Betnijah Laney, she’s getting better by the game and is gradually returning to her All Star form. That’s going to be crucial for the Liberty as they share ballhandling responsibilities and work to get more paint shots. Laney’s been driving to the basket more in the last two games and the more she’s able to attack, the more pressure she’ll put on the Sun defenders.

Player to watch: Alyssa Thomas

Don’t ask her about her shoulders. AT has managed to be an excellent player despite not being able to lift her arms above her head, but it works. Thomas provides strength, toughness, and great finishing ability at the rim. Thomas is one of the keys to Connecticut’s season, and if she is able to play like she did in 2019 and 2020, the Sun have a great chance to make it back to the Finals.

With no Richards or Willoughby for the Liberty, Rebecca Allen will jump right into the swing of things immediately. Allen provides some size at the wing and good three point shooting. With the Liberty short handed, Allen may wind up playing a bit more than what the team initially expected upon her return. However, with a week off after tonight’s game, they might be able to push her a bit longer and be OK with it.

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