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Liberty look to end road trip with win vs. the Seattle Storm

New York Liberty v Seattle Storm Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

A complete game is needed. After a choppy first half, the New York Liberty fought back to get the game into overtime on Friday night, but the Seattle Storm had enough to pull out the win and hand the Libs their sixth straight loss.

Where to follow the game

YES Network is the place to be. Earlier tip than last game so we’re getting the party started after 6 p.m.

Injuries

No Betnijah Laney, Didi Richards, Jocelyn Willoughby, or Lorela Cubaj for the Liberty.

Sue Bird, Ezi Magbegor, Mercedes Russell, and Stephanie Talbot are out for the Storm.

The game

Sandy Brondello has stressed it all season long, but the team has to be better in taking care of the ball. The Libs coughed it up 24 times on Friday night and the Storm scored 29 points off of those turnovers. The turnovers hurt even more when you take into account the Liberty held the Storm to only 34.7 percent shooting from the field and 29.2 percent from three point range. It’s hard to believe the Storm will shoot that poorly again, so the Liberty will have to make sure they plan a cleaner, more disciplined game if they want to win.

The big assignment on the perimeter for the Liberty will be trying to slow down Jewell Loyd. It was a team approach as the Libs threw a variety of defenders on to her in route to a 7-22 night from the field. It’ll take another big team effort to keep her at bay, and Rebecca Allen will play a big part in the Liberty’s chances tonight. Allen’s shot wasn’t there, but she came up huge in the clutch as she hit two huge baskets to help get the game into overtime.

The Liberty finally won the rebounding battle and they’re gonna need to do it more often. You can’t control the pace if you’re always taking the ball out from under your basket and unable to complete possessions on defense. It was a total team effort for the Liberty and that’s something they need to continue doing if they want to succeed.

Han Xu grabbed eight rebounds off of the bench, and the young big will get some more reps tonight. She’s been a great scoring option off of the bench and her touch around the rim is pretty deft for a player with her level of experience. We don’t get to see her match up against Magbegor, so hopefully we get it when the Storm comes to Brooklyn later this summer.

With the team shorthanded, the Storm made another hardship signing. On Saturday afternoon, they picked up Kaela Davis and she’ll be available for this one.

We need more from Sabrina Ionescu. Sab hasn’t shot above 40 percent from the field since the May 13th game against the Indiana Fever, and that’s not going to cut it. She’s got the dual responsibility of scoring and creating for others. It’s heavy lifting with Laney and Richards out, but somebody’s gotta do it and that responsibility falls on her shoulders. Despite her struggles, the team is continuing to develop chemistry and comfort with one another.

Player to watch: Breanna Stewart

What if? It’s been the question Joe and Clara Wu Tsai have probably been asking themselves since they met with Stewie during free agency over the winter. She was impressed with the Tsais, but agreed to return to Seattle. Sue Bird spoke about the free agency process and said:

“It’s great for our game. It’s literally why we wanted the CBA to be the way it is. I think all of us involved knew that there would be some growing pains, which I think we’re still seeing. I knew at that point, the GMs and agents were going to earn their money. This is really on them.

“From a players’ standpoint, the wining and dining is attractive. To have a billionaire fly and come and meet you and do all these things, it reminds me of college home visits. … We needed more player movement, which didn’t really happen before.”

As the game continues to grow, free agency and the rumor cycle will take the WNBA and turn it into a year round sport. It would be an awesome development.

On the court, Stewie will tangle with old friend Natasha Howard once again. Similar to Loyd, it was a total team effort as they held Stewart to 7-19 from the field. Howard had the assignment for much of the night and did a great job before fouling out at the start of overtime. Howard gives the team post scoring options and a big that is a respectable threat from the outside as she can pick and pop your defense all game long. That versatility as well as her excellence on defense gives the team a fighting chance every time she suits up.

From the Vault

On Sunday night, the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics will square off in Game 7 of the Conference Finals. The winner will go on to face a three time NBA champion that last appeared in the NBA Finals three years ago, the Golden State Warriors.

On Friday night, George Karl, Shawn Kemp, and Gary Payton were in town to watch Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals between the Utah Jazz and Seattle Supersonics. The winner of that series went on to face the three time NBA champion that last appeared in the NBA Finals three years earlier, the Chicago Bulls. With that in mind, let’s head on back to that magical night in Seattle

More reading: Swish Appeal