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CANCELLED: Air quality concerns cause WNBA to call off Liberty-Lynx game at Barclays

Minnesota Lynx v Washington Mystics Photo by Kenny Giarla/NBAE via Getty Images

UPDATE: WNBA cancels Liberty-Lynx game at Barclays Center due to continuing air quality issues in New York caused by wildfires in Quebec, Canada.

Here’s the press release from the Liberty...

NEW YORK – JUNE 7, 2023 – Tonight’s game against the Minnesota Lynx has been postponed due to the poor air quality in the New York City area impacting Barclays Center following the wildfires in Canada. The city has been placed under an Air Quality Health Advisory until Thursday morning. This decision has been made to protect the health and safety of our fans, teams and community.

The game will be rescheduled for a later date and tickets will automatically be valid for the new date. No additional action is required by ticket holders

It was all good, until it wasn't. On Sunday afternoon, the New York Liberty were cruising along and on track for their fifth straight victory. However, Kahleah Copper happened and the Chicago Sky came back from a 19-point deficit to stun the Liberty. For more on that game, watch me discuss the Liberty with Erica Ayala of Black Rosie Media on the Gotta Get Up podcast!

The opponent tonight is transitioning into a new era. The Minnesota Lynx are no longer in their dynastic era, but they are still hoping to be competitive every night. It’s been a rough start to the 2023 season for them, but they’re feeling good coming into this one. They were able to get their first win of the season on Saturday night as a Tiffany Mitchell game winner put them over the top against the Washington Mystics.

Where to follow the game

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Sabrina Ionescu has been dealing with a tight left hamstring, but she’s not on the injury report so all clear on that front.

Natalie Achonwa is on maternity leave and won’t be playing. Diamond Miller is out indefinitely with a right ankle sprain.

The game

When the Liberty are going well, it’s when they have two feet in the paint and are attacking the basket. We saw that in action for much of the game on Sunday as they scored 28 of their 52 points in the paint in the first half. The Liberty have their most success when they’re getting out in transition and forcing the issue that way. We’ll see if they can outrun the Lynx.

Part of that paint success has been the result of the team finding Jonquel Jones early in the game. With the myriad of scoring threats along with the unselfishness of the stars, whenever JJ has a mismatch in the post, she’ll get the ball and will do damage.

The Lynx run a really short rotation, so if Jones is able to put some fouls on Minnesota’s bigs, she’ll be in store for a huge showing.

Lynx fans are in for a treat on Friday night

It’s always a beautiful thing when you get to salute the legends of the game.

The Lynx are a really young team, and they’ll be counting on the 10 years of experience Kayla McBride has to guide them through. During training camp, she spoke about that and said:

“I have to bring the energy and experience. We have people on this team who have been in the league, and some who just got here. We have people who want to prove themselves. And I want to help.”

McBride is fourth in the WNBA in threes attempted per game at 7.4. However, she’s only made 32.4 percent of her attempts. McBride can take over a game at a moment’s notice, so it’ll be up to the dynamic duo of Betnijah Laney and Kayla Thornton to keep her in check.

Ball control will be essential tonight. These teams are tenth (Minnesota) and eleventh (New York) in turnover rate, and whoever is able to get out in transition more will control the flow of the game and get easier baskets. Now that everyone is here for the Liberty, they’ll have a chance to get comfortable with each other and be more settled into their roles.

For Sabrina Ionescu, a few days off ought to do her some good. Sab’s been dealing with a hamstring injury, but she’s been playing through it and getting better by the day. Something to keep an eye on is if she’s able to get to the basket a bit more. She’s taken a lot more three pointers, and prior to her two game slump was on fire. She’s been at her best when she’s getting downhill and attacking the basket. Sandy Brondello has mentioned that she’s working to create easier looks for her young star, and paint shots are always a great starting point.

Player to watch: Napheesa Collier

We've spent the past week discussing the pressure of replacing a franchise icon. Jewell Loyd is experiencing that in Seattle. Same with Kahleah Copper in Chicago. And now, we can add Napheesa Collier to the list. Collier is doing more on offense and has averaged a career best 18.6 points a night along with a career high 91.4 percent from the free throw line. When she gets it in the post, she’s practically automatic

She’s been taking more three pointers, but the success hasn’t been there quite yet.

After Sunday’s game, Courtney Vandersloot mentioned the team didn’t get Breanna Stewart the ball enough. While the Sky were going on their third quarter run, Stewie only got two shot attempts in that quarter. She heated up late in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough to extend the winning streak to five. Stewart can bail the team out of any tough spot, so we’ll see if the Liberty make a more concerted effort to get the ball in her hands throughout the game. Good things happen when Stewart is making things happen, and everything becomes easier for the rest of the team when Stewart is dominating the game.

From the Vault

Minnesota, so you know where we’re going

More reading: Swish Appeal, Canis Hoopus, The Strickland, The Local W, Just Women’s Sports, SI All Knicks, Winsidr, Her Hoop Stats and The Next