The New York Liberty (11-19) is on its way to the Connecticut Sun (24-6) Wednesday. The match ends at 19:00 ET and is broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network.
The Liberty is one game behind the Washington Mystics (12-18) for the WNBA’s eighth and final playoff game with only two games to play. They play the Mystics in their final game of the season, but to be a playoff opportunity, they must first win the Sun on the road.
This is much easier said than done, especially for the Liberty, who have lost seven consecutive games. Of course, Connecticut has already clinched the WNBA’s best playoff game – which took home advantage during the post-season – and has been a tough game for New York so far in the regular 2021 season. On June 5, the Sun received 31 points and 13 rebounds from MVP candidate Jonquel Jones and defeated Liberty by 21; they kept New York on track just 26 points into the second half another blowout victory a month later.
Simply put, the Sun’s winning formula for defense and rebound is one that Liberty struggles to match. New York was decisively outscored in both losses against Connecticut and could not determine the pace of the game in his favor. Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu struggled during the attack against Jasmine Thomas’ defense, while the team’s leading scorer Betnijah Laney shot a combined 5-for-19 (26.3 percent) in the two games.
If another fold is added to the comparison, sun forward Alyssa Thomas could be back in action. Thomas, who has not yet played in 2021 after bursting her Achilles tendon, is considered Friday, along with Sun coach Curt Miller.optimisticThat she will see some playing time.
Of course, there is also the possibility that the sun can rest some of their top players with their play-off position already sewn up. Regardless, the Liberty will have to be in top form if they are to alleviate the upset.
New York Liberty (11-19) vs. Connecticut Sun (24-6)
When: Wednesday, 15 September at 19:00 ET
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT
How to watch: CBS Sports Network, NESN +
Liberty Injury Report: Reshanda Gray (doubtful; non-COVID disease), Jocelyn Willoughby (out of season; left Achilles)
Sun Injury Report: Alyssa Thomas (probably; Achilles)
Keys to the match: The Sun plays with a physical body that is difficult to fit, especially for a Liberty team that tends to run too small in the forecourt. Keeping J. Jones out of the glass should be top priority for New York; if the Liberty can at least respect things in the rebounding division, they can set the pace and get open transitions by three points. New York’s guards must also handle Connecticut’s ball pressure much better than in previous games; If Ionescu remains a non-factor and Laney struggles to shoot the ball again, it’s hard to imagine a Liberty victory.