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Liberty head south to face the Dream

WNBA: JUN 02 Las Vegas Aces at Atlanta Dream Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Back on the go. The New York Liberty took on the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday afternoon at the Barclays Center. The home team led wire to wire as they toppled the Mercury and won, 89-71. At 7-3, the Liberty have reached the quarter mark of the season with room to get even better. Erica Ayala of Black Rosie Media and I broke down the latest on the Liberty on this week’s episode of the Gotta Get Up podcast!

The opponent tonight is on the good foot. The Atlanta Dream had been scuffling, but they’ve turned things around. They went into Tuesday’s contest against the Dallas Wings riding a three game winning streak. However, they couldn’t keep the party going and took a tough road loss.

Where to follow the game

ION TV has the broadcast tonight. If you don’t have that channel, WNBA League Pass is a second option. Either way, tip off is set for 7:30 PM.


Sabrina Ionescu has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. Epiphanny Prince had been with the team on a hardship contract, but she was released on Wednesday. Ionescu’s not on the injury report so all systems are a go. Han Xu is at the Asia Cup and will be back in July.

Iliana Rupert is at Eurobasket and not with the team. Aari McDonald is out with a shoulder injury.

The game

New York took game one while Atlanta captured game two. The teams wrap up the season series in July.

A little bit of housekeeping before we get down to tonight’s business. The Liberty and Minnesota Lynx game that was postponed earlier this month has been rescheduled to July 28th at 8 PM. Fans who had tickets for the first game will be able to use them for this contest.

In any walk of life, buy in goes a long way. You need everybody pulling in the same direction and working towards one goal if you want to succeed. When everybody’s bought in, you start to see the fruits of your labor pay off. And for a young team like the Dream, buy in matters even more. Tanisha Wright was asked about what she’s learned about watching the team turn their season around, and said:

“Just their fight. That’s what I’ve learned most. One that they’re bought in to what we’re trying to do here. I think that’s really important. I think the things that we’re trying to tell them, the things that we’re trying to instill in them, they’re really buying into it. And then they just fight. We have a team of people who don’t quit, who don’t give in to certain things. They don’t give in, they don’t give up.”

That goes a long way for a team that’s looking to enter the upper echelon of the league.

That starts with Allisha Gray. Gray was the team’s big acquisition during the offseason and she’s been great on her new team. She leads the team in scoring at 17.8 points per game on .475/.355/.855 shooting splits. Rhyne Howard to Mark Schindler over at UPROXX about her new teammate and said:

“She’s growing into this role as a scorer, and she’s gonna have to keep getting a bit more comfortable in that because of what she came from and how she was utilized in Dallas. We want her to be aggressive, we want her to score. Teams have to focus on both of us.”

The Liberty will look to slow down the duo of Gray and Howard. Historically, they’ve had success against Howard and have kept her out of the paint for the most part. The scoring has been there for Howard this year, but the efficiency hasn’t been as of yet. She’s shooting /380/.342/.722 on the season, and if the Liberty are able to slow her down one more time, it would put a wrench in Atlanta’s plans.

The Liberty couldn’t make it shake from deep the last time they saw the Dream. Luckily, having Sabrina Ionescu back should fix that issue. Sab set the team record for threes made in a game with eight and punished the Dream every time they went under on screens. If Atlanta switches things up, it could open up lanes to the basket for Ionescu.

In the first game, the Liberty won in part by using Atlanta’s aggressiveness against them and getting to the free throw line a ton. The Dream are ninth in personal fouls per game and lead the WNBA in opponent’s free throws allowed at 23 per game. That’s an especially tough combination against a player like Breanna Stewart.

Player to watch: Cheyenne Parker

We’ve talked about the Liberty’s rebounding issues a lot this season, and Parker will put them to the test. Parker is 12th overall in rebounds and the Dream are third as a team in offensive rebounding. Atlanta damaged New York to the tune of 13 offensive rebounds and 16 second chance points in the last meeting. Parker grabbed three of those boards so it’s going to take a total team effort for the Liberty tonight.

Jonquel Jones is putting it together bit by bit. Even with her being under the weather on Sunday, she was excellent on both sides of the ball and picked up her first double double of the season. Jones has started games off incredibly well and has set the tone on the interior for the team. She and Stewart have been developing some excellent chemistry, as our own Lucas Kaplan broke down here:

We see the vision coming together bit by bit for the Liberty. With the schedule starting to pick up, the next week and change will be a great test of their early progress.

From the Vault

On Sunday, we got sad news as legendary Houston MC, Big Pokey, passed away at the age of 45. Houston hip hop has been essential to the culture, and Pokey was a big part of that. With that, let’s head on back to the Summer of 2005 and revisit an all timer

More reading: Swish Appeal, The Strickland, The Local W, New York Daily News, Fansided, Just Women’s Sports, SI All Knicks, Winsidr, Her Hoop Stats, CBS Sports, and The Next