A few more miles to go. The New York Liberty have been very good so far in the 2023 season, but there’s still another gear they need to reach. That was evident as the Las Vegas Aces went wire-to-wire in a dominant victory on Thursday night.
The opponent tonight is coming off of a heartbreaker. The Seattle Storm and Minnesota Lynx were tied in the final seconds until...
that Napheesa Collier game winner handed the Storm a tough home loss on Thursday night.
Where to follow the game
YES Network for us. CBS Sports Network for the rest of y’all. Tip after 6:00 p.m. ET.
No Stef Dolson or Han Xu.
No Jordan Horston. There’s somebody else on the injury report, which we’ll get to in a second.
The Liberty won the first meeting in May.
There was some breaking news early Friday. Em Adler of The Next reported that the Storm will be re-signing Gabby Williams. Williams has been stuck dealing with the W’s prioritization rules along with the French federation making things difficult for her. Marine Johannes dealt with something similar from the French league, but she’s clear of that situation for now. Williams gives the Storm an elite defender that can guard four positions, a smart cutter off the ball, and a rapidly improving player in all aspects. If the Storm can get Williams back in time, it’ll go a long way to helping Seattle climb the standings.
The Liberty had to deal with five A+ scoring options in the Aces. They’ll have only one, but that one is absolutely incredible. Jewell Loyd has had to do it all for the Storm, and she’s stood tall.
Storm go back to the option ball screen.— Evin Gualberto (@evin_gual) June 30, 2023
Loyd flares off Ezi.
Double stagger is there but Loyd rejects.
Looks like they were going to flow into Spain with Whitcomb handling but Jewell sees that she can go one on one.
Loyd goes full Gold Mamba on this pic.twitter.com/g4hrZjWjV3
Loyd leads the league in scoring at 25.7 points a night on .394/.392/.865 shooting splits. For the Liberty, they’ll probably have Betnijah Laney take this assignment and hope that Bee makes everything tough on the Storm star. Watch out for the whistle in this one. There have been plenty of criticisms of officiating this season, and Loyd was the latest in a long line of folks who are not pleased with the job the referees have been doing:
Either Loyd will get the best or worst whistle of her career tonight. No in between.
The turnover battle will determine this one. The Storm do a good job of taking care of the basketball (second lowest turnover rate in the WNBA this season). The Liberty had their most careless game taking care of the ball in a while as they made uncharacteristic mistakes. The offense is too good for them to not make the most out of every possession on offense.
A lot of Liberty players will be looking to bounce back from a rough night in Vegas. First up will be Sabrina Ionescu. Sab had a rough night on both sides of the ball and couldn't make it shake against Vegas. Last time she played the Storm, she knocked down a then season high six three pointers. When Sab has it cooking from downtown, it opens up a boatload of opportunities for her teammates all over the court. It got her a well deserved All Star nomination and she’ll be looking to put on a show for her friends in the Pacific Northwest.
The 3-point line will tell the tale tonight. The Liberty lead the W in three point shooting, and the Storm are third in their own right. For the Storm, our old friend Sami Whitcomb is their ace three point shooter and has knocked down 41.3 percent of her shots from deep. Unfortunately for Seattle, they have the worst three point defense in the league as they allow teams to shoot a league leading 37.9% from downtown. The Liberty’s passing should free up plenty of clean looks from downtown and look for them to try and light it up early.
Courtney Vandersloot will also be joining Ionescu at the big game in Vegas. The General is being named to her fifth All Star Game and the leading assist player in the league. Sloot has done a great job of orchestrating the Liberty attack and often finds her teammates in the right place at the right time. She and the Liberty will try to chase old friend Sami Whitcomb off the three point line.
Player to watch: Ezi Magbegor
Ezi the Eraser! Magbegor has taken on a bigger role in the Storm attack, and it's been paying off so far. Ezi is third in the W in blocks at two per game, and is able to cover everything all over the court.
That excellence got Magbegor named an All Star reserve!
Ezi and Loyd will make for a solid dynamic duo for many years to come. Magbegor is expanding her arsenal on offense and is having a career year on that side of the ball.
Breanna Stewart will be looking to put on another show for her former city. Stewie had 25 points and 11 rebounds in her first return to Seattle. She struggled against the Aces, so look for her to make a statement early as she tries to get the team back on track before they had back to Brooklyn.
From the Vault
On Friday, Juvenile closed out Black Music Month with his long awaited appearance on NPR’s Tiny Desk! With that in mind, let’s take it back to one of the greatest albums of all time, 400 Degreez!