Work to do. The WNBA semifinals are underway, and the New York Liberty are a bit behind. They had the lead at halftime of game one, but started slow out of intermission and the Connecticut Sun took full advantage. The Sun used an excellent second half to capture game one and take a 1-0 series lead.
Where to follow the game
ESPN is the place to be. Tip off after 8:00 p.m. ET.
No Han Xu.
No Brionna Jones.
By the time you’re reading this, this year’s MVP will likely be announced. Word to the wise, do your self a break and avoid the chatter on social media.
After halftime, the Liberty couldn’t get into the painted area. The Sun had the paint locked down, and NY couldn’t get in. Sandy Brondello mentioned that the team needs to do more cutting and ensure the ball moves more from side-to-side. When players move, the ball moves, and good things happen
Breanna Stewart will look to bounce back from a down game one. She only went 7-25 from the field, and 4-18 after halftime. And of those 25 shots, I would say about seven were close to the rim. For the Liberty, they’ll need to figure out ways to get her easier shots closer to the rim. If they can do that, it’ll open things up for Stewart and the team and prevent them from feeling like they have to make home run plays if they’re trailing.
With that increased movement, it could lead to more things on the perimeter. Sabrina Ionescu is at her best when she’s on the move, and Rebecca Allen had the assignment on her former teammate, and did a terrific job as she helped hold Ionescu to 4-of-14 from the field. On the other side, Allen had a showcase game as she was a force on both sides of the ball. Allen’s length has always given teams headaches, and the Liberty will have to find ways to limit that.
The Liberty’s size didn’t help them on the glass, but it did help them defend Alyssa Thomas. AT only went 4-of-11 from the field, but she did hand out ten assists, grab seven rebounds, snatch two steals, and play all 40 minutes again. The Liberty’s best plan is to keep playing Thomas into a crowd and use their size and length to bother her when she shoots at the rim.
The Sun being able to knock down their threes should create more room for Thomas when she rolls to the rim, so the Liberty will need to make sure they don’t allow any easy buckets or have too many lapses on defense tonight.
Jonquel Jones will look to establish herself on the inside. JJ had another double-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks, but wasn’t as successful in the second half of the game as she was in the first. She only took four field goal attempts as Connecticut was able to force the Liberty into a crowd. JJ mentioned that the team didn’t have the defense needed to get them out in transition, and that’s going to be something to watch tonight. The Liberty lost the rebound battle for the first time in a while, and it contributed to their zero in the fastbreak column. The best way to score against elite defenses is in transition when you have the advantage, and that starts with completing possessions on the other side of the ball.
Player to watch: DeWanna Bonner
Timely baskets are such a lifesaver, and when you have a future Hall of Famer on your side, you’re always in good position. DeWanna Bonner scored 15 of her game high 20 points after halftime and her baskets kept Barclays Center from powering the Liberty to a big run to get back into it:
Bonner also has taken on the assignment of defending Jonquel Jones, and it’s a collective effort that worked as well as could be expected in game one.
Betnijah Laney is looking to bounce back from a down game one. Laney only went 1-of-9 from the field and never really got on track despite her best efforts. Great players tend to bounce back from subpar outings, and Laney is one of the best in the WNBA so look for her to respond in a big way. What should give her and the Liberty some solace is that she missed a lot of shots at the rim that she normally makes. If New York is able to maintain their aggressiveness, make timely cuts, and don’t get bogged down in the halfcourt, they’ll have a great chance to send the fans home happy. On the defensive end, we’ll see how Sandy Brondello deploys her All Defensive team leader tonight. Bonner’s length proved somewhat troublesome, but Laney has had success defending her in the past. Having Kayla Thornton coming in off the bench to help will give NY more options to work with as well.
From the Vault
BK and the BX unite as Remy Ma is the halftime performer at the ‘clays!
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
- Liberty need to solve Sun’s top-notch defense that took away biggest strengths - Andrew Crane - New York Post
- Liberty in must-win situation in Game 2 of WNBA semifinals against Sun - Brian Heyman - Newsday