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THE BIG GAME: Liberty come home to face Aces at 3:00 p.m. on ABC

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New York Liberty v Las Vegas Aces Photo by David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images

Tough it out. Teams keep gunning for the New York Liberty, but they keep powering through. The latest challenge came from the Minnesota Lynx on Friday night in Minneapolis. The Liberty used some smothering defense to pull away in the fourth and pick up their third straight victory.

So, how many superlatives can we fit in one story? The Las Vegas Aces are off to a historic start and are the favorites to make it back to the WNBA Finals and win their second straight title. They kept the party going on Tuesday night with a convincing victory over the Atlanta Dream. The win was their eighth in a row and it also clinched a playoff spot for the Aces.

Where to follow the game

ABC is the place to be. Tip after 3 PM. This game is also the annual Women’s Health Game and they’ll also be doing a special activation during the game

That’s what’s up.


No Stefanie Dolson or Han Xu. Both could be available next week.

Candace Parker recently underwent surgery to repair a fracture in her right foot. CP played the entire season on it and will be out recovering from the surgery. Riquna Williams had been out with a back injury, but that is immaterial to her current circumstances. She was recently arrested for felony domestic violence and is not allowed to leave the Las Vegas area.

The game

Vegas took the first one back in June. Get comfortable with seeing the champs because there are three more meetings this month between the two teams.

The Liberty are

  • second in offensive rating
  • second in net rating
  • second in three point percentage
  • second in true shooting percentage

Do you wanna guess who’s in first place in that and many more categories?

It ain’t gonna be easy.

Without CP, the Aces have turned to a former Liberty big to start at center. Kiah Stokes doesn’t provide the offensive punch that Parker provides, but her rim protection and rebounding have helped the Aces to the league’s best defense. She doesn’t need the ball on offense so her job today will be to own the boards. That’s going to be a tall task going up against Jonquel Jones. JJ was a terror on the glass Friday night as she tied her season high with 17 rebounds. Jones has been terrific post All Star break, and her presence on the boards will be of the utmost importance. If Jones is able to make her presence felt on the inside, it could force the Aces to go deeper into their bench and change their lineups.

Ball movement is the name of the Liberty’s game, and they’ve gotta keep the rock swinging against the league’s best defense. The Liberty lead the W in assists, but only had 21 helpers the first matchup back in June. For Courtney Vandersloot and Sabrina Ionescu, they’re going to have to adapt to the Aces’ pressure. Sloot had six turnovers the first meeting and Sab only went 3-8 from the field with only one three pointer. They’re going to need to get to their spots early and often and make sure the Liberty offense doesn’t speed themselves up. In the first game, it felt like the Liberty were a beat ahead of where they wanted to be, and Vegas made them pay for it every single time.

The Liberty’s perimeter defense will get the test of a lifetime. The duo of Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum have been masterful and make it impossible to slow the Aces down. Gray is knocking on the door of a 50/40/90 season and is third in assists as well. In any other year, she’d be a candidate for MVP, but this year ain’t the year. She’s a midrange assassin and even against the best defense imaginable, she can get to her spots and do damage. As for Plum, she’s shot 50 percent or better from the field in ten out of her last 11 games. They hunted Ionescu in the first matchup, and this contest will be a stress test on where the Liberty’s guards are. If the Liberty are to win, they’re gonna need Sab, Sloot, and Marine Johannes to excel on both sides of the ball. Jocelyn Willoughby has gotten regular rotation minutes across July and August, and we’ll see if Sandy Brondello turns to her a bit more than usual tonight.

With this game being on ABC, Jocelyn Willoughby and Nyara Sabally did a sit down that will be airing on the live broadcast

The main event for this one will be the battle at the four. On one corner, the reigning MVP. A’ja Wilson has continued her reign of dominance and is the center of the Aces universe. Even with all the top tier talent on the roster, it all revolves around Wilson and her marvelous play. Wilson hasn’t taken many threes this year, but it doesn’t matter as she’s shooting a career high 55 percent from the field. She’d be a worthy MVP award winner.

In the other corner, the 2020 MVP. Breanna Stewart has been everything and more for New York and is a leading candidate to bring the MVP back to New York. She’s struggled from the field recently as she’s been under 40 percent from the field in three out of the past four games, but she’s continued to find a way to succeed and be a major player. Her defense has continued to be at all WNBA levels and has helped the Liberty continue to get better on that end. She’ll have the matchup with the M’VP, and Stewie will hope she can force her off her spots as much as possible. The Liberty and Aces will get extra familiar with each other this month, and with a sold out Barclays Center crowd ready to spur the home team on, it should be a special day of hoops in Brooklyn.

Player to watch: Jackie Young

So what do you call it when a great player takes a leap, and then takes another leap? That’s the question a lot of us are wondering after watching Jackie Young this year. Young is a stealth MVP candidate and a for sure All WNBA team player this year. She is at career highs in points, field goal percentage, and three point percentage. When you think you’ve got everybody on the Aces figured out, there’s Young to make life even harder on you.

Matching up against the Aces is gonna be a challenge, but Betnijah Laney is more than up to it. Laney has been able to use her success from three to drive to the cup and finish in traffic. When the Liberty’s threes aren’t falling, they can get the ball to Laney and trust her to make something shake in the post area. Her defense will be essential tonight as she’ll toggle through a variety of matchups. She figures to start with Young and keep her off the three point line. Without Parker, the Aces have gone smaller. The Liberty have been experimenting with smaller lineups recently, and today’s a day as good as any to see how it stacks up against the best of the best.

From the Vault

(Tell em how we roll) cruise control

More reading: 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