It was a celebration, but one thing was missing for the home team. The New York Liberty hosted the Seattle Storm on Sunday afternoon in Sue Bird's final regular season game in NYC. The game was tight throughout, but the 2020 WNBA champions closed out strong and came away with the win.
The opponent tonight will be the Connecticut Sun. Curt Miller and friends are once again near the top of the league as they stand on top of the Eastern Conference standings. They were on the road Sunday afternoon, but lost to the Washington Mystics.
Where to follow the game
ESPN2 is the place to be. Tip after 7 p.m. We’re the only game in town so tell your friends to settle in and put the game on.
No Betnijah Laney or Jocelyn Willoughby. Rebecca Allen is in concussion protocol, and will be out until she clears all of the steps necessary. Jackie Powell of The Next lists the steps here:
For Allen to be cleared to return to play, this must happen: (Via the league's concussion protocols)— Jackie Powell (she/her) (@ClassicJpow) June 21, 2022
1) She must be w/o symptoms at rest
2) She's been evaluated by a Dr. that has experience in concussion management + that Dr. must perform baseline tests recommended by the #WNBA.
Jasmine Thomas is out for the season after tearing the ACL in her right knee.
So, the last time the Liberty saw the Sun, they committed a franchise record 32 turnovers in route to a dispiriting loss. The Liberty have been much improved in June, and we can thank their low turnover rate for a lot of that. They've had the third lowest turnover rate in the WNBA in June, and tonight will be a great test of their recent improvements. When you hang tough with elite competition, it gives you a boost the rest of the way. With this matchup, the Liberty will get another chance to show they belong with the best teams in the league.
Han Xu didn't play in the first two Sun games, so it'll be an exciting matchup for her. Han had a rough game on Sunday afternoon as she went 3-9 from the field and missed shots at the rim that she normally makes. Having Han’s size will help immensely against the best rebounding team in the W this year. She and Stef Dolson will have their hands full on the inside and the team will need strong performances from both if they want to win this one.
Speaking of the Sun’s size, we’ll get to see the reigning MVP in action. Jonquel Jones is third in the W in boards at 9.4 a night. She also leads the team in scoring with a shade over 15 a night on a .526/.377/.806 shooting splits. Curiously, she only gets ten shots a game, which is low for a player as spectacular as she is, but things have been going well for the Sun so it’s not an issue right now at least.
Natasha Howard will get this assignment again, and she’ll look to see if she can repeat the success she had on Opening Night. Howard is also looking to bounce back after a rough outing against the Sun on Sunday as she only went 5-15 from the field in 30 minutes.
We get to say hello to an old friend tonight! Last week, the Sun signed former Liberty guard/forward Jazmine Jones to a contract. Jones played incredibly hard for the Liberty in her two years here and in the documentary, Unfinished Business, this play stood out
Jones is a jolt of energy and Sun fans will love her.
Courtney Williams is back in CT, and it’s not off to the greatest start. She’s having one of the most difficult seasons of her career, and will need to be better if the Sun want to capture that elusive championship. If your two guard isn’t knocking down shots and has the ball in her hands as much as Williams does, that might make things difficult down the line.
After the second meeting, we asked Curt Miller about the differences in how the Sun guarded Sabrina Ionescu in game two vs. game one:
We were a little bit conservative with our approach to guarding her and she took advantage of that, and we didn’t make an adjustment to that coverage soon enough. There was more attention given to her, we showed her different coverages, we gave her different looks, we tried not to be just a one look team on her tonight, and we sent a lot of attention to her. Now, it led to some other people getting open shots or some open plays, but there was a lot of focus by our unit out there to make it more difficult than we did in game one against Sabrina.”
Ionescu has been marvelous in June and even when her shot isn’t there, her passing keeps things moving and creates clean looks for her teammates all over the court. In a game like this, they’re going to need to cash in on as many of their open looks as possible.
Player to watch: DeWanna Bonner
When a player’s been a professional for a long time, things tend to flatten out as consistency develops. Your strengths are your strengths, your weaknesses are your weaknesses, etc. For Bonner, something interesting has been taking place this season. On the year, DB is shooting a career high 36.8 percent from three point range on almost five attempts a night. For her career, she’s only shot 30.2 percent from downtown. In the postseason, the post becomes even more clogged up so you’re going to need good shooting from deep to open up the offense. If Bonner is able to keep shooting at this clip, the Sun will be even more difficult to handle.
Welcome to another edition of the MJ show! Marine Johannes was magnificent on ESPN Sunday afternoon as her 23 points and four assists helped the Liberty go toe to toe with the Storm. Johannes’ defense has been a huge part of her game this season as well and her athleticism has been crucial for the Liberty. They’re going to need another big game out of her if they want to start this two game road trip with a victory.
From the Vault
- New York Liberty Game Notes - New York Liberty
- Connecticut Sun Game Notes - Connecticut Sun
- Sun face Liberty searching for better rhythm - STATS
- Jonquel Jones and the untold story of the WNBA’s reigning MVP - Katie Barnes - ESPN