Rise and grind. It was a battle for 45 minutes, and the New York Liberty pulled off a gritty, one point overtime victory over the Washington Mystics on Sunday afternoon. The win was the team’s third in a row and they were able to send the Barclays Center crowd home happy. Tonight is the first leg of a three game road trip that will take them from here, then Las Vegas, and finally Seattle to close out.
The opponent tonight is looking to keep their party going as well. The Connecticut Sun are looking different, but they’re still playing great ball. They pushed their winning streak to four with a dominant home win against the Chicago Sky on Sunday afternoon. When this wraps up, they’ve got a few days off before they head to Vegas for their own showdown vs. the Aces on Saturday afternoon.
Where to follow the game
YES Network for us. NBATV for the rest of y’all. Tip after 7:00 p.m. ET.
Stefanie Dolson will be out a few weeks due to an ankle injury. Han Xu is in the Asia Cup and will be back soon.
Last Tuesday, Brionna Jones left the game against the game with an ankle injury. It turned out to be a ruptured Achilles injury and she will be out for the rest of the season. Bri released a statement following the news:
Hope she heals up and is back soon.
The Liberty won the first meeting back in May.
Three point shooting will tell the tale tonight. The Liberty lead the WNBA in three point attempts and percentage while the Sun are last in attempts but fourth in percentage. The Liberty turned the tide of the first game by holding the Sun to just two three point makes after halftime, so they’ll need to keep chasing them off the line and into tough shots if they want to get the win.
Sabrina Ionescu will look to keep the party going for the Liberty. She made seven three pointers on Sunday and gradually started to pick apart the elite Mystics defense. Sab is able to bend the defense to its absolute limit with her ability to shoot from 30+ feet, and the Liberty will need that again. The respect defenses have to pay her from that far out opens things up for her to drive and find shooters open in the corners.
It’s hard to replace a player like Bri Jones, but the Sun will try. They inserted our pal Rebecca Allen into the starting lineup, and Bec’s ranginess on defense, timely cuts on offense, and good three point shooting is always a welcome sight. Allen figures to get the Breanna Stewart matchup tonight. Stewart struggled from the field on Sunday, but hit the last and biggest shot of the night to seal the win. Even with her recent struggles from the field, Stewie has been living at the free throw line and maintaining her aggressiveness. With the new Sun lineup, it might be a bit easier for her to get to her spots and score tonight.
Before Sunday’s game, Stewart was asked about the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that repealed Roe v. Wade, and said:
Breanna Stewart on Roe v Wade repeal anniversary: "Reproductive freedom is a human right. Abortion is healthcare. The ability to choose and do what we as women need to do for our bodies should be seen as most important." (Q: @ClassicJpow)— Myles (@MylesEhrlich) June 25, 2023
Prior to the first game against the Sun, I asked Betnijah Laney what a key to defending a player like DeWanna Bonner is, and she said:
“Just kind of the same thing [as defending Indiana’s Kelsey Mitchell], just stay aggressive, stay in her space, knowing her moves and everything. It’s just [knowing your personnel] at that point and just continuing to stay down and disciplined on defense.”
Bonner leads the Sun in scoring at 18 a night and recently set her career high with 41 points. Laney figures to get the assignment of guarding her, and while Bonner has the height advantage, Laney is a crafty and sturdy defender that can make it tough for Bonner on the catch and force her into difficult shot attempts.
Player to watch: Jonquel Jones
It’s the third homecoming for the Liberty. Jonquel Jones is playing in Connecticut as a visitor for the first time after spending the first six seasons of her career there. As a Sun, JJ averaged around 13 points and eight rebounds a night on .520/.378/.790 shooting splits. That doesn’t tell the whole story as JJ won league MVP in 2021, led the team to two WNBA Finals appearances, and made the All-WNBA team four times. Jones was an amazing member of the Sun and will one day have her jersey retired by the team. She should get a rousing ovation from the folks in CT tonight.
On the court, she’ll look to bounce back a bit. She didn’t score on Sunday, but did chip in with ten rebounds, a steal, and a block in 23 minutes. The Liberty have gotten a lot better on the boards recently, and it starts with Jones’ work on that end. Offense comes and goes, but defense and effort travel with you everyday and Jones is making sure she does what she can to
JJ and the Liberty will have to deal with Alyssa Thomas, center edition. AT has been hell on wheels and set the league record for triple doubles on Sunday. Thomas wasn’t named an All Star starter as the fan vote didn’t get her over the top, but she’s a guarantee to be named a reserve to the team this year. Thomas does everything on the court and is:
- first in rebounding
- second in steals
- second in assists
Thomas is an early MVP contender and she’ll be looking to bounce back after the Liberty shut her out in the first game. If New York is able to prevent Thomas and the Sun from getting out in transition, it'll force them into difficult half court possessions for most of the night.
From the Vault
We’re taking it back to JJ’s first Finals appearance way back in 2019