NEW YORK LIBERTY (21-12) at DALLAS WINGS (16-17)
Sunday, Sept. 3 • Arlington, Texas (College Park Center) • 2:00 PM (ET)
While the Liberty knows it will host a WNBA Playoffs 2nd Round game on Sunday, Sept. 10, at The Garden at 5 PM, playoff seeding has yet to be finalized, and that is what is at stake when New York visits Dallas on Sunday. The Wings know they will be the No. 7 seed, facing either Phoenix or Washington on the road. For the Liberty, currently slotted at No. 3 in the playoff bracket, a win would clinch the 3rd spot for a second year in a row, while New York could also finish 3rd if Connecticut loses at Los Angeles later on Sunday afternoon.
• The New York Liberty wrapped up its regular season home schedule with an 81-69 win over the San Antonio Stars on Friday night. New York has won 8-straight at home and finished the regular season with a 13-4 record at The Garden. Tina Charles and Epiphanny Prince both scored 16 points to lead 4 starters in double figures.
• With one game to play the Liberty has moved up to the No. 3 seed for the WNBA playoffs, defeating San Antonio on Friday while the Connecticut Sun fell at Phoenix. New York clinches the No. 3 seed with a win at Dallas in its regular season finale or a Connecticut loss at Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon.
• Epiphanny Prince has matched a season-long streak of 5-straight games scoring in double figures, finishing with a team-high 16 points vs. San Antonio on Friday night. She tied for the team lead in scoring, just the 3rd time this season Prince has paced the Liberty offensively.
• New York held San Antonio to 69 points on Friday night, its 5th-straight opponent that failed to break the 70-point threshold. Over the last 5 games, opponents are averaging 61.6 ppg and shooting .380 from the field. New York improved to 10-1 in 2017 when allowing fewer than 70 points.
Containing Skylar Diggins is key for the Liberty as she ranks 7th in the WNBA in scoring. She has made 48 3-pointers this season but does a lot of her damage at the free throw line. Diggins is a .894 percent shooter from the stripe and her 186 makes and 208 attempts both easily lead the league. New York’s guards will be challenged with keeping her out of the paint and giving up free points at the line.
New York completed a big comeback, erasing a 10-point 2nd half deficit to come back and beat the Wings 102-93 in overtime back on June 16. Shavonte Zellous was the hero for the Liberty, knocking down an off balance jumper with less than a second to play to send the game to overtime. She finished with 28 points. The 102 points scored was the highest for the Liberty in the history of the series.
PLAYOFFS TIP OFF SUNDAY, SEPT. 10 AT THE GARDEN
With two games remaining in the regular season, the Liberty has posted a 3rd-straight 20-win season and secured a 2nd-straight bye into the 2nd Round of the WNBA Playoffs. New York is assured to finish either 3rd or 4th in the league standings, and will open the postseason at home on Sunday, Sept. 10. The game time and opponent will be determined at the conclusion of the 1st round games. The winner of the single-elimination game on Sept. 10, will advance to face either the Minnesota Lynx of Los Angeles Sparks in a best-of-5 WNBA semifinal series.
The Liberty picked up an 81-69 win over the San Antonio Stars on Sept. 1, at The Garden, making it the 5th-straight game an opponent failed to break the 70 point threshold against New York. That is the longest such streak in the WNBA since 2013, when the Indiana Fever had a 5-game streak allowing fewer than 70 points. Over the last 5 games, opponents are averaging 61.6 ppg and shooting just .380 from the field. For the season, the Liberty leads the league in defensive field goal percentage at .408. If the Liberty is able to limit the high scoring Dallas Wings squad to fewer than 70 points, it would be the longest streak in the league since Sacramento’s run of 7 in a row in July 2006.
RETURN TO FORM
Epiphanny Prince tied for the team lead with 16 points in the Liberty’s 81-69 win over the Stars on Sept. 1, the 5th straight game she has scored in double figures, matching her longest personal streak of the season. It was just the 3rd time this season Prince has led the Liberty in scoring and her 15th game in double figures. Prince ranks 2nd on the team over the last 5 games averaging 14.6 ppg and she is shooting .500 from 3-point range (10-of-20) during that span. For the year, she is averaging 11.7 ppg, which is tied with Shavonte Zellous for 2nd on the team and ranks 26th in the WNBA. She has also hit multiple 3-point attempts in 4 of the last 5 games.
CHARLES INCREASES PLAYER OF THE WEEK RECORD WITH 27th WIN
Tina Charles was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Aug. 28, earning the accolade for the 27th time in her career, increasing her WNBA record career tally. It was her 6th Player of the Week win of 2017, this time coming after she led the Liberty to a 3-0 week, including wins over Indiana, Washington, and Chicago. The previous week, Charles ranked 4th amongst East players in scoring, averaging 18.3 ppg, and was 5th in rebounding at 8.0 rpg. She also was second in three-point field goal percentage (62.5, 5-of-8) and tied for second in steals (2.0 spg).
THE DIFFERENCE IS DEFENSE
New York is currently on a season-long 9-game winning streak, and while the offense has been clicking since a change to the starting lineup was made just prior to the All-Star Break, the Liberty’s defensive pressure has been a huge factor in rattling off 9-straight wins. Over the past 9 games, New York is limiting its opponents to just 66.7 ppg, .380 shooting from the field and .277 from 3-point range. New York has a +13.0 scoring differential over the current winning streak, a sizable jump from its +3.1 ppg advantage over the course of the season.