The first day wasn’t the best day. The New York Liberty began their 2023 journey on the road against the Washington Mystics, and it could’ve gone a whole lot better. The Liberty couldn’t find their shots and wound up losing 80-64 as a result. It’s a long way to go and for Liberty fans, they hope opening night was a matter of the band getting in tune for the rest of the tour.
The opponent tonight is on the rebuilding side. The Indiana Fever have a lot of talent and potential on the roster, but it’s going to take some time to put it all together. They opened the 2023 WNBA season at home against the Connecticut Sun and lost 70-61. The Fever have a bright future, and each game is a building block to a successful future.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. Twitter on social media. Brunch and basketball so the party’s getting started after 2:00 p.m. ET.
No Nyara Sabally. Marine Johannes has overseas obligations so we won’t see her either.
Nothing doing for the Fever.
Turnovers will tell the tale of this one. The Liberty coughed it up 22 times and that helped prevent them from finding their rhythm on offense. A lot of that came from the players trying to make the extra special pass, but sometimes one pass too many can throw you off.
Indiana is incredibly young, and young teams tend to be loose with the basketball. They led the WNBA in turnovers last season, and might wind up leading again. For the Liberty, if they can force Indy into turnovers, they’ll have a chance to get out in transition, get some easy baskets, and cause that Liberty crowd to make some more noise.
The Fever perimeter offense will run through Kelsey Mitchell. In 2022, she led the team in scoring (sixth overall in the W) at 18.4 points a game on 44/44/86 shooting splits. The Liberty had a lot of success defending her in 2022, and they plan to throw a variety of looks at her
If they can keep Mitchell in check, they’ll shut off a key source of Indiana’s offense. Look for Betnijah Laney, Kayla Thornton, and Jocelyn Willoughby to get some turns guarding Mitchell as they look to keep her on the perimeter.
Sabrina Ionescu only went 7-of-20 on Friday, but she got a lot of shots that she normally makes. There’s always a balance between attacking and setting your teammates up, and it’s one Ionescu will try to figure out when she’s running the offense while Courtney Vandersloot is on the bench. As the long as the process is sound and the ball is moving, the Liberty are almost guaranteed to get good shots every possession.
For Breanna Stewart, she’ll look to bounce back from a shaky night. Stewie only went 3-of-10 from the field with four turnovers, but she’s too great of a player to have back-to-back subpar outings. The Liberty are at their best when they’re in the paint, and if Stewart gets those closer shots, she’ll keep the Fever off balance.
Player to watch: Aliyah Boston
Generational bigs don’t come around very often, and the Fever have one of the best to come out of the NCAA in quite some time. Boston was dominant at the University of South Carolina and was the no doubt number one pick in the Draft. Although she fouled out on Friday, she went 6-10 from the field and had 15 points and nine rebounds in only 24 minutes. You could see the potential dominance already from the young star
As Boston continues to develop and as the Fever keep building a good roster, Indiana will be a team to watch.
Jonquel Jones had a slow start to her Liberty tenure. She only played 18 minutes and only went 2-6 from the field. Sandy Brondello mentioned that JJ was on a minutes limit, and the thinking is she’ll be on one again today. If the Liberty are looking for a scoring punch to give Boston some trouble, they might give Han Xu some more run at the center. Han was able to adjust to the fast pace Indiana played with last year and had two excellent games against them. The Liberty have a lot of frontcourt depth, and it will come in handy as they try to get up to speed.
From the Vault
Busta Rhymes turned 51 years old yesterday, so it’s only right we pull up two of his many classics
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