Liberty Clinches Home Court Advantage for Playoffs
WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 -- In a packed MCI Center, the New York Liberty scored a convincing win over the Washington Mystics on Friday. In a crucial game to decide the season tie-breaker between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the East, the Liberty took the bragging rights and a whole lot more.
"We knew tonight was a huge game for us. We knew we were going to face a tough Washington team with about 18,000 fans on their bench. We let them take one from us last night on our own court, so we wanted to come in here and do the same to them," said Teresa Weatherspoon, who dished eight assists and pulled down six boards.
With the win over Washington, New York clinched the top spot in the WNBA Eastern Conference, putting the Liberty is prime position for the playoffs. With home court advantage throughout the playoffs, the Liberty is looking forward to playing the key games of the season at the Garden.
"We had an opportunity to clinch first place last night, and let it slip through our fingers. We were not going to let it happen again, and we came here with a mission," Spoon continued. "Even though we had already clinched the playoff spot last night, we were playing for more. It was crucial for us to take the game tonight because we were playing for home court advantage."
The Liberty, among one the best in attendance in the WNBA, has a history of playing well at home and own a 10-5 record so far this year. After struggling to find their chemistry throughout the first half of the season -- the Liberty went on a tear, losing just 4 games after the All-Star break.
They strung together nine out of 11 wins before hitting two hot teams -- Minnesota and Washington -- at home.
"After a great second half of the season, we had two tough losses, and
everybody thought we were going to fold," Spoon explained. "But I have faith in this team, we believe in ourselves, we believe in each other, and now we're No. 1 in the East."
Spoon went on to talk about the hard work the team has put in so far this year, and how it all pays off in the postseason.
"Reaching this point has been our goal from the very first day of training camp," Spoon said. "All season long - everything was pointing to right now - clinching the top spot in the Eastern Conference and putting us in the best position for the playoffs.
We have been together in this position before, and we know what we have to do to take this team to the next level. Tonight was a perfect example - we executed well, and played Liberty Basketball - good defense driving the offense."
Spoon noted how the postseason puts teams on equal footing.
"The playoffs give everybody a clean slate, everybody starts at the same level," Spoon said. "The edge we have is to be able to play at home 2 games. We love playing in our own building, and know we can count on our fans to give us their incredible support and help us through."
Sunday is the final home game of the season, and the Liberty will host Fan Appreciation Day. Kym Hampton will sing the National Anthem, and the players will pay special tribute to the fans. The Liberty will take on the Charlotte Sting, still in the hunt for a playoff berth, and who could face the Liberty in the playoffs depending on final seedings. Then the team is off to Orlando for the final game of the regular season.
With two more games to go in the regular season, the Liberty will look to close it out on the highest note, knowing that the team's fate lies in their own hands, on their home court.
"The season isn't over yet. We have two more big games to go against playoff contenders," Spoon said. "We have unfinished business left in the regular season, and we are coming to play. Then we'll take it to the playoffs where people will have to come to our house, where we love to play.
"We're playing for team, for our fans, for all New York. This Liberty team wants it all, and we are driving to play all the way to Labor Day."