A bad time for a bad effort. Everything lined up for the New York Liberty to improve their playoff standing on Saturday night against the Phoenix Mercury. However, the team picked a bad time to not bring the effort needed to win and suffered a disastrous loss as a result. Their effort was simply unacceptable and puts them in a mess of their own making. The L also cost the Liberty the season series vs. the Mercury and are now ninth in the standings.
The opponent tonight will be the Dallas Wings. Like the Liberty, the Wings are battling it out for a playoff spot. They had to come from down 20 points to do it, but they helped their cause on Saturday by beating the Indiana Fever in overtime. Dallas is at sixth in the standings.
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Natasha Howard left Saturday’s game with a right ankle injury. She is listed as doubtful.
Arike Ogunbowale left Saturday’s game with a hip injury. She's out for this contest. Satou Sabally has been dealing with an ankle sprain for a while and is out for this contest as well.
Dallas won the first meeting.
Effort. All we ask for is effort. The Liberty didn’t play with the required effort needed to win on Saturday and got their butts kicked as a result. They usually bounce back after disastrous outings and they’re going to need to make sure they are locked in from the jump tonight.
That will have to start with Sabrina Ionescu. Sure she scored 20 points and made some cool history along the way, but as one of the leaders of the team, she has to make sure her that she and her teammates are locked in and ready to hoop from the opening buzzer. She only went 1-8 from three point range on Saturday night, and some of her shots were a result of her settling early in the shot clock. The Liberty offense is at its best when they’ve got two feet in the paint, and if Ionescu is attacking downhill more frequently, good things are bound to happen. She also hates losing, so look for her to be on it after such a rough outing over the weekend.
If Howard is out, Michaela Onyenwere will have to pick up the slack at the power forward position. She’s done well in the opportunities she’s had and stepped up in games where Howard fouled out. The circumstances are vastly different now, but Mic has shown that she stays ready and will look to give the Liberty a jolt of positive energy tonight. The rotation has gotten shorter, but that might change due to the injury.
With Ogunbowale out, look for Marina Mabrey to run the offense from the perimeter. She and Arike haven’t played well together, so the Wings front office will have to figure that out for the years to come. Mabrey is the team’s go to perimeter scorer late and the Liberty hope to force her into some ill advised shots. If they can, they can get back out in transition and get some easy baskets.
Three point shooting will decide this one. The Liberty missed a bushel of wide open threes against the Mercury and that helped doom them on that night. They sometimes tend to settle for threes instead of working the ball around and getting an even better shot, so they’re going to have to make sure they make the most out of every possession tonight.
Betnijah Laney is back, and her role just became even more important. She played 21 minutes on Saturday and was able to shake off some rust after being out for two months. There will be minutes available for her, and she’ll likely be coming off the bench again. The time of the season is disadvantageous, but you can’t push her too hard seeing as how she just got back.
Player to watch: Teaira McCowan
Big T has got it going at just the right time. She's collected five straight double doubles and has been doing damage on the inside. In those five games, she’s averaged close to 20 points and over 13 rebounds a game while shooting 57.4 percent from the field. What makes her even more daunting is she’s been getting to the free throw line nine times a game in that stretch and grabbed six offensive rebounds a game during this run. It looks like everything is starting to come together for the former number three pick
With Howard out, more will fall on the shoulders of Stefanie Dolson and Han Xu. Han had a pretty rough outing on Saturday as the Mercs played her physically and she missed some jump hooks at the rim. Dolson wasn’t as effective as she has been as she dealt with foul trouble for much of the night. With Howard hobbled, the Liberty will need their frontcourt tag team to play heavy minutes and play incredibly well. They’ve got to avoid foul trouble at all costs and battle McCowan on the inside.
From the Vault
Over the weekend, Kendrick Lamar hit the stage at Barclays Center for two performances. I was there on Friday night and would definitely recommend seeing K-Dot when he’s in your city. In the mean time, let’s revisit one of the best songs in his amazing discography
- Game Notes: New York Liberty - New York Liberty
- Game Notes: Dallas Wings - Dallas Wings
- Wings can clinch playoff berth with win over Liberty - STATS
- Ionescu and New York visit Ogunbowale and the Wings - AP