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Liberty begin homestand vs. Indiana Fever

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WNBA: JUL 07 Commissioner’s Cup - Indiana Fever at Washington Mystics Photo by Charles Brock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Back on the block. The New York Liberty got back on the good foot by beating the Washington Mystics in DC on Friday night. The Libs are now 15-5 and will have a jam packed home schedule this week before they get back on the road.

The opponent tonight is hoping to make a late playoff push. The Indiana Fever have been off since Wednesday after beating the Mystics on Camp Day. After this wraps up, they'll head west for a two game set against the Los Angeles Sparks.

Where to follow the game

YES App for the locals. NBATV for the rest of y’all. Tip after 3:00 p.m. ET.

Injuries

No Stefanie Dolson or Han Xu.

NaLyssa Smith and Lexie Hull are out.

The game

The Liberty won the first meeting in May and the second one last week. These teams wrap up the season series in August.

When the Liberty get out on the run, they're impossible to guard. Sandy Brondello has talked about playing at the right pace and mentioned recently she likes for the team to be past halfcourt by the time the shot clock gets to 20 seconds. If you're able to get into things quickly, you keep opponents off balance. Look for the Liberty to push the tempo and get the Fever out of sorts.

That transition success has been key to the chemistry between Breanna Stewart and Sabrina Ionescu. Recently, our own Lucas Kaplan observed just how awesome Stewie has been in transition

Stewart spoke about that after Friday's game and said:

When you have two stars that command so much attention and are firing on all cylinders, it makes things hard on opponents. The unselfishness of all the Liberty’s players has made them an incredibly potent offense, and we'll see if they can push the Fever into matchup nightmares.

Being down two centers makes things extremely difficult. And when you're going up against an All-Star starter, the job becomes a bit harder. In addition to hitting the game tying 3-pointer last week, Aliyah Boston gave the Liberty centers a whole lot of trouble on the interior. AB has seamlessly transitioned into the pro game as her 15 points and eight rebounds a night have kept the Fever afloat. She's a sure bet to win Rookie of the Year, and if she continues playing at this level, she has a chance to go down as one of the best players in WNBA history as well.

Jonquel Jones will look to build on one of her best games of the season. JJ was a force on the inside and her 27 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks set the tone for the team. Most importantly, Jones did not get into foul trouble. They'll need her to stay out of foul trouble so she can own the boards and force Fever guards into mid range jumpers.

That'll start with the work they do on the perimeter against Kelsey Mitchell. The All Star guard started strong in the last matchup, going 4-of-7 from the field and scoring 12 points in the first quarter. However, she only scored four points the rest of the way as the Liberty were able to throw a series of looks at her and contest everything she attempted.

That effort and teamwork will be vital if NY wants to win in front of the hometown crowd.

Player to watch: Erica Wheeler

The Fever have already matched their win total, and the former All Star guard has been a key part of that.

Sandy Brondello has mentioned she wants to expand the rotation so she doesn't overwork the starters. We saw it in action as Jocelyn Willoughby and Marine Johannes got early first half minutes. MJ had a career high six rebounds and is starting to come out of her slump. Recently, Ben Pickman of The Athletic did a story on MJ and spoke to Yoann Cabioc’h, her assistant coach at LDLC ASVEL Lyon Feminin. He spoke about how coaches work to maintain Johannes' confidence when she gets into slumps, and he said:

"In Marine’s life, it needs to be fun. We need to make jokes. We need to laugh. Otherwise, she don’t like it. Her playing style needs to be fun.”

The best work days are when you get to have fun with your friends.

From the Vault

We got some sad news on Friday as it was announced Tony Bennett passed away at the age of 96. With that in mind, let's throw it back to a performance he had with Lady Gaga

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