One more. The New York Liberty hit the road for the first time this postseason and took a trip to Uncasville to face the Connecticut Sun. The Liberty started strong and never let up as they took a 2-1 series lead in the WNBA semifinals after winning 92-81 on Friday night.
Where to follow the game
ABC is the place to be. Tip after 3:00 p.m. ET
No Han Xu.
No Brionna Jones. Rebecca Allen was a late scratch with a non-COVID illness. We’ll see if she’s available for this contest.
So, the playoffs are intense. Emotions are high, fuses are shorter, and the margin for error is non-existent. Combine all of those factors plus the frustration of trailing by a bunch and you get this...
Interesting moment on the bench between DiJonai Carrington and DeWanna Bonner: pic.twitter.com/Y5HcgiCFQi— Lucas Kaplan (@LucasKaplan_) September 29, 2023
That’s how it goes sometimes. Curiously, Dijonai Carrington did not play the rest of the game after this. In pregame, Sun coach Stephanie White revealed Carrington was a healthy scratch in Game Two. White explained she felt those players Connecticut had on the court gave the team a better chance to win. With Allen less than 100 percent, will White turn to Carrington? We’ll see.
We’ll also see how the Sun deploy their lineups. With Allen out, Olivia Nelson-Ododa moved into the starting five. ONO did well, but without Allen, the Sun are down a shooter and ONO doesn’t give Connecticut’s big stars enough space to fully operate.
Natisha Hiedeman and Ty Harris went a combined 5-of-20 from the field. They couldn’t find their shots throughout the night and were outplayed by the Liberty combo of Sabrina Ionescu and Courtney Vandersloot. Sloot only went 5-of-13 from the field, but a lot of those misses were layups she normally makes. As long as she continues to find good shot opportunities at the rim, good things will happen.
An encouraging development for the Liberty was Breanna Stewart’s play on offense. Stewie looked like her MVP self as her 25/11/2/2/1 on 58% shooting led the way.
Sandy Brondello often mentioned a lack of spacing when asked about Stewie's struggles in Games 1 and 2. Look at Sandy direct traffic from the sideline, ensuring that Stewie has space to spin back middle: pic.twitter.com/xhXLqjp6t3— Lucas Kaplan (@LucasKaplan_) September 30, 2023
What also helped Stewart have success was the Liberty getting out on transition. The Liberty are at their best in transition and when you’re able to attack a defense that isn’t set, it makes your life a bit easier. Getting Stewart easy shots is the name of the game and the more of those she gets, the more the Liberty will operate at peak capacity.
The Sun will need a huge game out of DeWanna Bonner. DB only went went 4-of-12 from the field and felt she got a bad whistle from the referees. Bonner is one of the game’s best postseason performers and someone that knows how to bounce back from a rough outing. With the season on the line, look for her to play all 40 minutes this afternoon.
If the game is close late, look for Betnijah Laney to make something happen. Bee had another solid outing as her 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals helped keep the Sun at bay. Laney has a knack for making timely baskets and when all else fails, Sandy Brondello can put the ball in Laney’s hands and trust her to make something happen.
Player to watch: Alyssa Thomas
You can’t stop a great player forever. Sooner or later, they’re going to figure things out and start to find their way. The Engine found herself as her 23 points, nine rebounds, and 14 assists reminded us why she was an MVP finalist. You started to see her have more and more success against the Liberty’s frontcourt size as the game progressed.
Ultimately, she can’t do it alone, as she pointed out on the Sun bench during a timeout
Holly Rowe reports Alyssa Thomas was saying something like "I need help. I am tired out here," here: pic.twitter.com/LZdi1nxklu— Lucas Kaplan (@LucasKaplan_) September 30, 2023
Jonquel Jones has been a double double machine all postseason. JJ collected her fifth straight double-double as her 10 points and 12 rebounds helped the Liberty own the interior. Five of those rebounds were on the offensive glass, including this one where she flew in to get the board and the finish
Jones will need to continue to use her size, speed, and athleticism to bother Thomas and shut the paint off for Connecticut.
From the Vault
Yesterday, the legendary Patrice Rushen turned 69 years old. We could be here all day, so let’s pull up one of her many classics
More reading: Swish Appeal, The Strickland, The Local W, New York Daily News, New York Post, The Athletic. Fansided, Just Women’s Sports, SI All Knicks, Winsidr, Her Hoop Stats, CBS Sports, and The Next
- Jonquel Jones’ challenging Liberty transition has started to pay off - Andrew Crane - New York Post