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Liberty come home to face the Chicago Sky

WNBA: JUL 20 Seattle Storm at Chicago Sky Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Work to do. The New York Liberty completed their camp day slate with a day time affair on the road against the Washington Mystics. They fought hard, but ultimately fell short and lost by nine points. The L was their fifth in a row and things have been quite difficult for New York in recent weeks.

The opponent tonight will be the Chicago Sky. James Wade and company have held it down and have a great chance of repeating as WNBA champions. They helped their cause by beating the Dallas Wings at home last night.

Where to follow the game

The YES Network app (hopefully with no technical difficulties this time) has us covered. We're back at a normal time so tip is after 7:-00 p.m. ET.


No Betnijah Laney. Michaela Onyenwere hopes to be back from a knee injury and is listed as questionable.

Courtney Vandersloot is in concussion protocol following an elbow she took to the face in a game against the Los Angeles Sparks on July 14.

The game

Chicago won game one in May and game two in June.

The free throw line will help tell the story of this game. On Thursday, the Liberty snapped a streak of teams attempting 20+ free throws a game by holding the Mystics to “only” 18. When you’re trying to quickly figure things out like the Liberty are, they can’t afford to lose defensive discipline and let teams get easy points on the foul line. They have the second highest opponent free throw rate in the W this year and that’s cost them their fair share of games.

The last time she saw them, Sabrina Ionescu had a game for the ages as she scored 27 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and handed out 12 assists as she took it to the defending champions. teams have been trapping Ionescu more in recent games, and she’s going to need to continue making the right plays to get her teammates open looks. Defenses always sell out to stop stars like Ionescu, and her teammates will have their fair share of opportunities to make Chicago pay for any double teams they send her way.

Without Vandersloot, Julie Allemand has stepped into the starting five and kept things humming along. She’s averaging a touch over five assists a night as a starter and has adjusted well to her new role.

The Sky are on the second night of a back-to-back after playing a close one against the Wings last night. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume they may be a bit on the tired side after getting into New York early this morning. This could be an opportunity for the Liberty to push the tempo and get out in transition. The Sky have a lot on their plates coming up, so this could be an opportunity for the Liberty to jump them.

We've talked about flight issues before, and sure enough...

The players, coaches, and team staffs deserve SO much better from the league office.

As far as big offseason acquisitions went, none might be more important than the Sky signing Emma Meesseman. Meesseman gives the Sky another plus scoring option in the post and from deep. She’s given the Liberty trouble in both games this season as she’s shooting 64 percent from the field against New York. Natasha Howard will draw this assignment tonight. Howard has worked to maintain the team’s level of hope and optimism during this losing streak and they’re going to need to follow her lead tonight. If she’s able to make Meeseeman’s night challenging, it will help stifle the second best offense in the league.

Han a big hit back home

As Han Xu, the Liberty’s 6’10” center keeps getting better, she is being more and more noticed back home in China. She’s everywhere on social media, including the Nets Weibo site which has more than 4.5 million followers.

And Saturday’s game will feature a match-up between Han and the WNBA’s only other Chinese player Li Yueru.

“Han and Li have been creating hype online and offline. Many girls have been inspired by Han and Li, and we have numbers to show that more girls have started participating in basketball on all levels,” China basketball analyst Michael Yuan, founder of Team Fountainhead, told AP’s Doug Feinberg. “We can also clearly see more news coverage and other kinds of user generated content on China’s social media platform.”

As Feinberg wrote Friday:

Han’s highlights have garnered millions of views on streaming platforms in China. Kuaishou, a global social media platform, recently hosted a livestreaming session with her that generated about 1.6 million views.

“Homegrown players like Han Xu and Li Yueru succeeding at the highest level drives interest among China’s passionate basketball fans and inspires Chinese youth to play the game,” said Jonathan Li, senior vice president of NBA China.

Player to watch: Candace Parker

We've been giving legends like Sylvia Fowles and Sue Bird their flowers in their final seasons, and one of these days, we'll be doing the same for CP3. In her 15th season, Parker is as good as ever. She's an excellent floor general at the center position, has successfully pushed her range out to the three point line, and is the anchor to an elite Sky defense. She’s even a mentor to younger players like Ionescu:

Parker has been a model ambassador for the game of basketball for almost two decades and will continue to do so in whatever avenue she wants to go down next.

Stef Dolson will look to win the battle on the inside tonight. Dolson has been a bit under the weather this week, but she’s toughing it out and doing her best to keep her team competitive. Han Xu has been struggling in recent games, so Dolson will have a little bit more on her shoulders tonight against her former team. She recently spoke about how her dog, Theo, has helped her with her mental health amidst the pressure of pro basketball

It’s always to lean on your support systems when you’re in stressful situations.

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