NEW YORK LIBERTY (17-12) at INDIANA FEVER (9-21)
Wednesday, Aug. 23 • Indianapolis, Ind. (Bankers Life Fieldhouse) • 7:00 PM (ET)
The Liberty will put its 5-game winning streak on the line when it faces the Indiana Fever on Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The current streak began with an 81-76 win over the Fever at The Garden back on Aug. 8, but both meetings this season against Indiana have been tight. New York needed to overcome a 15-point 2nd half deficit in its one point win on the road last month, and despite leading by as many as 14 against the Fever in the 2nd matchup, the Liberty held on for a 5-point win. This will be a good road test for New York as it can now officially begin playoff preparation.
• The New York Liberty won its 5th game in a row and clinched its 3rd consecutive WNBA Playoffs berth with a 70-61 win over the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday afternoon at The Garden. The Lynx had won 3-straight against New York, including a 1-point victory last month in Minneapolis, but the Liberty used a 21-4 2nd half run to secure a win. Tina Charles led the way with 19 points and 9 rebounds, while Epiphanny Prince added 15 points with a pair of 3-pointers.
• The Liberty completed a 3-game stretch against the top three teams in the WNBA standings with a 3-0 record as it ran its season-long winning streak to 5 in a row.
• New York improved to 10-4 at home and has also won 5-straight home games. The Liberty’s last setback at The Garden came against the Chicago Sky back on July 14.
• The Liberty has overcome double-digit 1st half deficits in each of its last three wins.
• New York leads the WNBA in defensive field goal percentage at .409 and has held three of its last four opponents under 40 percent from the field. The Lynx shot .338 while tying a season-low in scoring with 61 points on Sunday.
Candice Dupree has been playing at a high level against the Liberty, averaging 14.0 ppg, while Tina Charles has been putting up 25.5 ppg and shooting .500 from the field in two games against the Fever. Dupree is in the midst of an All-Star season with the Fever, and New York will once again look to win the post and paint scoring battle.
New York held off a Fever comeback attempt to pick up an 81-76 win at The Garden on Aug. 8. The two teams were meeting for the 2nd time in 8 days, and the Liberty had just escaped with an 85-84 win at Indiana on July 28. Tina Charles led four liberty players in double figures with 26 points and 7 rebounds, while Shaving Zellous nearly posted her 2nd-career double-double with 16 points and 8 rebounds. New York dominated the paint, outscoring the Fever by a season-best margin of +26 (36-10) and also took advantage of 15 Indiana turnovers to the tune of 21 points.
THE DIFFERENCE IS DEFENSE
New York is currently on a season-long 5-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 5-straight wins. Over the past five games, New York is limiting its opponents to just 70.6 ppg, and .371 shooting from the field and .297 from 3-point range. The Liberty has held 3 of its last 5 opponents under 40 percent from the field, and limited both Los Angeles and Minnesota to fewer than 70 points when they visited The Garden. New York has a +9.2 scoring differential over the current winning streak, a sizable jump from its +1.2 ppg advantage over the course of the season.
CHANGES PAYING DIVIDENDS
Prior to it game against the Washington Mystics on July 16, the Liberty made a change to the starting lineup, inserting Bria Hartley at point guard, while allowing Epiphanny Prince to play shooting guard, while Sugar Rodgers would provide fire power off the bench. Since then, New York has gone 9-3, and seen improvement across the board in nearly every offensive category, in some places drastically, particularly with a scoring average jump of nearly 4 points per game and a opponent ppg that has decreased by nearly 5 points.
CHARLES INCREASES PLAYER OF THE WEEK RECORD WITH 25th WIN
Tina Charles was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Aug. 21, earning the accolade for the 26th time in her career, increasing her WNBA record career tally for POW wins. It was her 5th Player of the Week win of 2017, this time coming after she led the Liberty to wins over Connecticut and Minnesota. The previous week, Charles ranked 1st amongst East players in scoring, averaging 21.5 ppg, and was 2nd in rebounding at 8.0 rpg. She also shot .516 from the field.
LIBERTY FACTS & FIGURES – KEY NUMBERS
The number of points that Tina Charles needs to move past Chamique Holdsclaw (4,716) for 20th place in WNBA history in scoring. Charles currently ranks 21st with 4,683 points.
Liberty opponents are shooting just .361 from the field over the past 4 games. Over that same span, New York is limiting its foes to just 69.3 ppg with a +10.2 ppg scoring differential.
New York limited Los Angeles to just 8 2nd quarter points when the teams met on 8/13 at The Garden. It was the lowest point total for a Liberty opponent in a quarter this season, and the lowest scoring output for the Sparks during any quarter in 2017.
The Liberty is leading the WNBA in defensive field goal percentage at .409. New York has led the league in defensive shooting percentage in back-to-back seasons.
New York is back in the playoffs for a 3rd-straight season, having qualified officially with its win over Minnesota. New York last made the playoffs in 3-straight seasons from 2010-2012.
With the win over the Lynx on Sunday the Liberty moved to 5 games above .500 for the 1st time this season and also won its 5th game in a row, a new season-long streak. The Liberty has also won 5-straight home games and is 10-4 at The Garden.