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Liberty look to clinch season series vs. Dream

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Phoenix Mercury v Atlanta Dream Photo by Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images

Always a pleasure to see the grind get rewarded. The New York Liberty were stuck in the mud for the early part of Tuesday’s game against the Seattle Storm. However, they started to slow down, get back in gear, and came away with an 18=point comeback win on Tuesday night. For more on the Liberty, tap in with me and Erica L. Ayala of Black Rosie Media on the latest edition of the Gotta Get Up podcast!

The opponent is on the rise. The Atlanta Dream have taken a big step forward and are heading for a playoff spot. They helped the cause by beating the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday night in the A.

Where to follow the game

YES Network for us, Amazon Prime for the rest of y’all. Tip after 7:00 p.m. ET


No Stefanie Dolson or Han Xu.

All clear for Atlanta.

The game

New York won games one and three while Atlanta won game two. This is the last regular season meeting between the two clubs.

It’s been a great month for Jonquel Jones. She’s the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week and earlier in the month, celebrated the Bahamas’ 50th Anniversary at the Empire State Building. NetsDaily was in the house and we wrote about it here!

On the court, JJ will look to continue her recent hot streak. JJ has collected three straight double doubles and has provided that interior presence the Liberty so desperately need. In the last matchup, she tore Atlanta up to the tune of 18 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks. When Jones is providing that interior excellence, it gives the Liberty one more dynamic option to work with.

Atlanta will counter with Cheyenne Parker. Parker’s had a great year and was named an All Star. However, you would’ve never known based on how the Dream treated her after the break. Parker was benched the first two games coming out of the half, and Tanisha Wright didn’t give many consistent explanations as to why the switch was made. Either way, she’s back and will try not to get into foul trouble. Atlanta is pretty undersized and New York is well positioned to take advantage of that.

Allisha Gray was one of the major pickups of the WNBA offseason, and she’s delivered in a major way. She got a well deserved All Star nomination, and as Tariq McDowell of Multiplicity Media notes, she’s done it in a variety of ways:

“The way Gray has finished through contact with any kind of angle has been incredible, and she’s always been a blur in transition. She’s constantly moving so she scores in many ways, making her dangerous with or without the ball. Not enough players are a threat off the ball, Allisha certainly is.”

Gray will be a key part of this matchup and Atlanta will use her in a myriad of ways. She’ll probably draw the matchup of defending Betnijah Laney. Laney was masterful on Tuesday as her 19 points and stellar defense on Jewell Loyd powered the Liberty comeback. She provides a toughness and tenacity that always lifts her teammates up and encourages them to do their best.

Look for the Liberty to get out and run. Atlanta is tenth in the WNBA in turnover rate, and if they’re careless with the ball, New York can get those easy fastbreak baskets and energize the Barclays Center crowd even more. With this being the front end of a back-to-back, look for Sandy Brondello and the coaching staff to play the whole rotation so as not to put too much on each player’s plate.

In a perfect world, the Liberty would win big so they can sneak rest in for the starters. However, when you’re trying to pull off a comeback, you throw the rule book out the window and ride your stars. Breanna Stewart had a poor shooting night when she played Atlanta here in NYC, so look for her to be assertive early so she can put them off balance, draw even more attention, and get the Liberty out to a strong start.

Player to watch: Rhyne Howard

The franchise. Since we last saw the Dream, Howard has turned her game up a few notches. Over the past 11 games, Howard is averaging around 20/4/4 on .452/.418/.816 shooting splits. Howard is a prolific three point shooter and has already set the record for most three pointers in the first two seasons of a W career. She’s got the green light to attack and put pressure on opponents, and a strong August and September would be a massive benefit to her and the WNBA.

Over their last 11 games, Atlanta has gone 8-3 and have given themselves a great chance of hosting a first round playoff series. It would be a welcome accomplishment for an Atlanta franchise that is trying to make it back into the elite rankings of the league. Stay the course, and good things follow.

Sabrina Ionescu is having a pretty great week. On Tuesday, she had a 12/12/12 game in a win. And on Wednesday, she threw out the first pitch at the Subway Series!

That’s the good stuff!

Ionescu didn’t shoot well on Tuesday, but who cares when you have other great scorers alongside you and you’re helping in other areas? When you have Jones, Laney, and Stewart, you can take a step back and work to feed them in the best scoring position. Ionescu has done a wonderful job of adapting to her new role and has been excellent. This season is all about sacrifice, and she’s definitely lived up to that.

From the Vault

On Thursday, it was announced that Sinead O’Connor died at the age of 56. There’s so much to learn and know about her, but we’ll keep it quick and pull up one of her jams

More reading: 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