NEW YORK LIBERTY (4-3) vs. ATLANTA DREAM (4-2)
Wednesday, June 7 • New York, N.Y. (Madison Square Garden) • 11:00 AM (ET)
The New York Liberty will host the Atlanta Dream for its annual School Day game, presented by the New York City Department of Education on Wednesday, June 7, at 11 AM. Always one of the most fun games of the year as The Garden is packed with enthusiastic students from across the city, two of the top teams in the East will face off as New York puts its two-game winning streak on the line against an Atlanta Dream team that has gotten off to a hot start at 4-2.
• The Liberty improved to 2-1 on its season-long 5-game home stand with an 88-72 win over the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday afternoon at The Garden. Center Kiah Stokes led the way for the Libs, posting a career-high 23 points to go along with 14 rebounds for her 2nd-straight double-double. It marked New York’s 4th-straight regular season win over the Mercury, its longest streak in series history.
• Tina Charles was named the WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday, the 22nd win of her career, which tied Tamika Catchings for the most POW nods in league history. Charles led the Liberty to a 2-1 record the previous week, averaging 25.7 ppg, and shooting .509 from the field.
• Shavonte Zellous has posted back-to-back 20-point games for the 1st time in her career, after helping lead the Liberty to wins over Dallas and Phoenix over the weekend. She is averaging 24.0 ppg over the last two games, after scoring just 22 points through the 1st 5 games of the season.
• Despite coming off consecutive 20-win seasons, because of an interesting wrinkle in scheduling, the Liberty has strung together 2-straight wins for the 1st time since July 20. It has been just slightly longer (July 17) since New York posted consecutive home victories.
Tiffany Hayes has emerged as one of the most consistent scoring threats in the league, entering the week ranked 6th in the league in scoring at 20.5 ppg, and as the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Month. At 2-guard she will be matched up against Sugar Rodgers, who after getting off to a strong start has gone two games without hitting a 3-point field goal, a stretch likely to end as she heats up again from the outside. Rodgers is still averaging 11.3 ppg, and ranks 2nd in the WNBA with 14 3-pointers.
New York won the 2016 series against the Dream 2-1, and has gone 8-2 over its last 10 games against one of its Eastern Conference rivals. The last meeting game on July 13 at The Garden, an 86-62 Liberty victory that saw 4 Liberty players score in double figures, led by Tina Charles (18 points) and Sugar Rodgers (13 points).
PLAYER OF THE WEEK RECORD
Tina Charles was named the WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week on June 5, marking the 22nd time in her career she was earned the distinction, which ties Tamika Catchings for the most career wins in league history. Charles last received the honor on Sept. 12, 2016, winning Player of the Week seven times in 2016, a league single-season record. In leading the Liberty to a 2-1 record last week, Charles averaged 25.7 ppg, and 7.0 rpg, scoring a career-high 36 points in a win over Dallas and shooting .509 (29-of-57) from the field.
With her 16 points in the win over Phoenix on June 4, Tina Charles surpassed 2,000 points as a member of the New York Liberty, becoming just the 6th player in franchise history to eclipse the mark. Charles is 6th in franchise history in scoring at 2,003 points, and leads the Liberty in all-time scoring average at 18.7 ppg. Vickie Johnson holds the Liberty all-time scoring record, as she scored 3,246 points for the franchise from 1997-05. Charles has accrued 4,246 points in her career, currently ranking 26th in WNBA history.
CHARLES ON A TEAR
After getting off to a slow start to begin the 2017 season, Tina Charles has been remarkable over the past two weeks, putting up number even better in some cases than when she led the league in scoring and rebounding a year ago. After scoring just 6 points against the Lynx on May 18, Charles has scored in double figures in all five games, including a stretch of 4-straight 20-point games, which includes career-best 36 points against Dallas on June 2.
Kiah Stokes scored a career-high in back-to-back games last week, first tying her personal best mark of 13 points in the Liberty’s win over Dallas on June 2, then easilly surpassing it with 23 points in the victory against Phoenix on June 4. Stokes also recorded a double-double in both of those games, with a career-best 15 boards against the Wings and 14 against the Mercury. Stokes had a double-double in the 1st half against Phoenix, the 1st time in her career she has done so, and also posted back-to-back double-doubles for the 1st time in her career.
A 1ST FOR ZELLOUS
Shavonte Zellous has also stepped her game up over the past week, doing something she had never done over the course of her 9-year WNBA career, score 20-plus points in consecutive games. Zellous netted 27 against Dallas on June 2, her highest point tally since pouring in a career-best 33 on June 25, 2014, and followed that up with 21 points in the victory over Phoenix on June 4.
RE-PAINTING THE GARDEN
One of New York’s strengths in recent seasons has been dominating the paint, which often has meant the difference in wins and losses. Through the 1st five games of 2017 that had not been the case, as the Liberty were averaging just 27.7 ppg in the paint as a team. That changed with 52 points on the interior against Dallas, followed by 42 points in the pain during the victory over Phoenix. Over the past two games, the Liberty is averaging 47.0 points in the paint, an improvement on the 31.3 for the season. New York has posted a 3-1 record when outscoring its opponent on the inside in 2017.
NET PLUS/MINUS LEADERS
Heading into this week, Tina Charles and Shavonte Zellous found themselves amongst the league’s net plus/minus leaders this season, ranking 1st and 5th in the WNBA respectively. Zellous is +37 this year while Charles is +15, but the net numbers tell the full story, mostly because of what they mean to the team’s defense. With Charles on the court, teams average 78.1 pts/40, but that number jumps to 87.4 when she is gone. For Zellous, opponents score just 74.0 pts/40, one of the lowest rates in the league, compared to 93.9 when she is on the bench.