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Liberty host Lynx in second game of back-to-back

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Washington Mystics v Minnesota Lynx Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Keep on keeping on. The New York Liberty have a daunting stretch of basketball in front of them, but they’ve kept at it. The Atlanta Dream had last night’s game circled on the calendar, but so did the Liberty and they went wire-to-wire in another big win. The current win streak is up to four games.

The opponent tonight at Barclays Center has gotten back on track after a rough start. The Minnesota Lynx started the 2023 season on a six game losing streak. However, they’ve gotten things right and are in good position to make it back to the playoffs. They helped the cause after a close home win against the Washington Mystics on Wednesday night.

Where to follow the game

ION Television has us covered tonight. Tip after 8:00 p.m. ET.


No Stefanie Dolson or Han Xu.

Rachel Banham is out with a right thumb injury. Late in Wednesday night’s game, Napheesa Collier left the game with a right ankle injury. She’s out for this contest.

The game

This game is a makeup for the game that was postponed on June 7 due to the wildfires in Canada. We don’t usually get home back-to-backs, but here we are.

With the tight schedule, the Liberty have gone about expanding the rotation. And so far, the results have paid off. Although she didn’t score last night, Jocelyn Willoughby made a bunch of hustle plays and allowed the team to go with a more switch heavy defense against Atlanta in the fourth quarter. Sandy Brondello has talked about staying ready, and Willoughby is a textbook example of that.

Without Collier, look for Kayla McBride to take on a much larger role for Minnesota. She was second on the team in shot attempts last season and will slide up a role now that Phee is out. McBride’s defense will be essential as the Lynx try to slow down Sabrina Ionescu. Minnesota allows teams to take 26 three pointers a game, highest in the league. The Libs are first in three pointers attempted and three point percentage, with Sab lighting it up at a 42.9% clip. If the Lynx defense isn’t dialed in and Ionescu finds herself open, look out.

We’ll get to see an exciting rookie tonight. Dorka Juhász has stepped into a major role with this team and acquitted herself quite well. She’s been a solid presence on the interior and is someone that can make things happen on offense. She and the returning Jessica Shepard will have the tall task of slowing down Jonquel Jones tonight. After the loss to the Wings, Jones has been on an absolute tear. During the winning streak, JJ is averaging 19.25 points and 13 rebounds a night 61/47/100 shooting splits. As the Liberty continue getting comfortable, they’re breaking out some more tricks...

Oh my.

Speaking of Breanna Stewart, she’ll look to put another banner performance up on the board. Stewie lived at the free throw line as her 14-of-16 from the charity stripe helped as she scored a cool 33 points. Without Collier, the Lynx are down a player that could give Stewart trouble. The Lynx do a good job of defending without fouling (second lowest opponent’s free throw rate in the WNBA this season) so look for Brondello and friends to cook up a variety of ways to get Stewart the ball on the move.

Player to watch: Diamond Miller

The Lynx hit a grand slam when they drafted Miller with the second overall pick in this year’s Draft. Miller has been a jolt of energy for the Lynx and is hell on wheels when she drives to the basket.

Her 3-point shot isn’t there quite yet, but that comes with time and more reps. At just 22 years old, the sky is the limit for Miller and this rebuilding Lynx team.

As Betnijah Laney goes, so go the Liberty. Laney put an end to any of the Dream’s comeback dreams as her 12 fourth quarter points last night led the team and sent the fans home on a happy note. Laney also had the primary assignment of guarding Atlanta star Rhyne Howard and helped hold her to only 4-17 from the field. There’s been so much discussion about the Liberty perimeter defense, but Laney has been magnificent on both sides of the ball this season. As the Liberty continue building to where they want to eventually end up, Laney’s all around excellence will help lead the charge.

From the Vault

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