NEW YORK LIBERTY (0-0) vs. WASHINGTON MYSTICS (1-0)
Sunday, Sept. 10 • New York, N.Y. (Madison Square Garden) • 5:00 PM (ET)
The season comes down to a winner-take-all WNBA Playoffs 2nd Round game between the New York Liberty and Washington Mystics on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden at 5 PM. The No, 3 seed Liberty, who closed the regular season on a 10-game winning streak, host Washington, who beat Dallas 86-76 in Round 1 of the playoffs on Wednesday night. This is the 2nd year in a row the Liberty host a 2nd Round game at The Garden, while the Mystics are experiencing the new WNBA Playoffs format for the 1st time. The Liberty won 2-of-3 during the regular season and both games at The Garden. These teams last met in the postseason in 2015 when the Liberty beat Washington 2-1 in the Eastern Conference semifinals. In that series, Washington won game 1 at The Garden before the Liberty game back to win the next two and advance.
• The New York Liberty will face the Washington Mystics in a winner-take-all WNBA Playoffs 2nd Round game on Sunday, Sept. 10, at The Garden at 5 PM. The Liberty earned the No. 3 seed in the WNBA Playoffs and received a bye into the 2nd Round. The No. 6 seed Mystics advanced to the 2nd Round with an 86-76 win over the No. 7 seed Dallas Wings on Wednesday night.
• The Liberty surged to 3rd place in the WNBA and 1st in the Eastern Conference by winning 10-straight games to close out the regular season. The 10-game winning streak matched a franchise record from 2010 and is also the most consecutive wins to end the regular season WNBA history.
• New York is in the midst of one of its most successful 3-year stretches in franchise history. The Liberty have earned 3-straight WNBA Playoffs berths and posted the best record in the Eastern Conference in each of those years. Since the start of the 2015 season, New York has gone 66-36 (.647) posting 3-straight 20 win seasons for the 1st time in franchise history.
• The Liberty led the WNBA in defensive field goal percentage (.408) for the 3rd-straight season, becoming the 1st time in league history to lead the WNBA in defensive field goal percentage over a 3-year span.
There is no stopping Tina Charles and Elena Delle Donne, two of the most efficient scorers in the history of the game, they will make their presence felt on Sunday, so the edge may come to who is able to produce from the perimeter. During the Liberty’s 10-game winning streak, Epiphanny Prince hit 13 3-pointers and shot .433 from 3-point range, to ranks 2nd on the team in scoring at 12.8 ppg. For the Mystics, Kristi Toliver came to Washington to provide big outside shot making abilities. She had 16 in the win over Dallas oN Wednesday, although she shot just 1-of-9 from 3-point range, but was 7-of-7 at the line. New York will look to limit Toliver and get hot from three.
New York won the season series against the Mystics 2-1, winning both games at Madison Square Garden, most recently 74-66 on Aug. 25. For the year, it was Shavonte Zellous that had the most success offensively against Washington, averaging a team-leading 15.3 ppg and getting to the free throw line 6.7 times per game. Tina Charles averaged just 11.3 ppg and 7.3 rpg in the three meetings. For the Mystics, who only had both Emma Meesseman and Elena Delle Donne for that game on the 25th, they predictably paced the team against New York, averaging 15.5 and 15.0 ppg respectively.
LIBERTY 2017 SEASON HEADLINES
• New York finished with the best record in the WNBA Eastern Conference for the 3RD-straight season, going 22-12 overall, earning the No. 3 seed in the WNBA Playoffs.
• The Liberty posted 3-straight seasons with at least 20 victories for the 1st time in franchise history; New York has gone 66-36 (.647) since the start of the 2015 seasons.
• New York closed the regular season on a 10-game winning streak, which matched a franchise record, and is the longest streak to end the season for any team in WNBA history.
• After making a change to the starting lineup at the midway point of the season, New York went 14-3 over the final 17 games of the year.
• The Liberty once again led with their defensive, ranking 1st in the WNBA in defensive field goal percentage (.408). New York is the 1st franchise in league history to lead the league in defensive field goal percentage for 3-straight seasons (2015-17).
• From Aug. 20-Sept. 1 the Liberty held 5-straight opponents to fewer than 70 points, the longest such streak in the league since the Indiana Fever had 5 in a row in 2013
• Tina Charles submitted another MVP caliber season averaging 19.7 ppg (3rd) and 9.4 rpg (4th)
LIBERTY FINISHES REGULAR SEASON ON 10-GAME WINNING STREAK
New York matched a franchise record from the 2010 season with 10-straight wins to close out the regular season. It is also the longest streak to end a season in WNBA history; the next closest is 7 games, accomplished by 3 teams, including the 2017 Los Angeles Sparks. For the Liberty, a number of factors played into the consecutive victories, but none bigger than defense and turnovers.
• Over the final 10 games of the season New York held opponents to just .384 from the field and 68.1 ppg
• The Liberty had a point differential of +11.8 over the 10-game streak, compared to +3.1 for the season
• New York held 6-of-10 teams to fewer than 70 points during the stretch, including 5 teams in a row, the longest such streak in the league since 2013
• The Liberty turned the ball over just 11.4 times per game during the winning streak
The Liberty led the WNBA in defensive field goal percentage in 2017, holding teams to .408 from the field for the year. It was the 3rd-straight season the Liberty has led the league in opponent shooting percentage, making New York the 1st franchise in league history to accomplish the feat three years in a row. This year’s mark bested the 2016 number of .413, but did not match the near historic .393 teams shot against New York in 2015.
BOOST FROM THE BENCH
When the Liberty made a change to its starting lineup midway through the season, with explosive guard Sugar Rodgers coming off the bench, New York saw a big production increase from its 2nd unit. Through 17 games, New York ranked last in the WNBA averaging 14.8 bench points per game, but over the final 17 games of the year, the Liberty averaged 24.0 ppg from its 2nd unit. This allowed the Liberty to improve to 9th in the league, at 19.7 ppg, and the 24.0 ppg if averaged over the course of the seaosn would have been the 4th-best mark in the WNBA. New York went 14-3 during the 2nd half of the season.
DOUBLE-DOUBLE DROUGHT FINDS OASIS
Tina Charles closed out the regular season with an 18 point, 18 rebound double-double in an 82-81 win at Dallas, her 12th point/rebound double-double of the season. However, that snapped a stretch of 11-straight games without a double-double for Charles, by far the longest of her career, exceeding the previous long stretch of 6 games without a double-double. For her career, Charles ranks 2nd in WNBA history with 141 double-doubles. She is the only player in league history to have posted a double-double in more than 50 percent of her career games played, securing one in 53.4 percent of her games.