The New York Liberty continues its five-game home stand when it hosts the Atlanta Dream for School Day presented by Indigo Rein on Tuesday, May 24, at Madison Square Garden at 11 a.m. New York is coming off a tough 79-72 loss to Los Angeles in overtime on Saturday night, while the Dream defeated Chicago in its home opener on Sunday.
Both teams are 2-1 heading into this critical early season matchup.
New York is coming off a 79-72 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Sparks on Saturday evening. Prior to that setback, the Liberty had won its previous four overtime games, including both regular season overtime contests last season.
Tina Charles has led New York in scoring and rebounding in all three games this season, and is averaging 21.7 ppg and 12.7 rpg. Charles has posted a double-double in all three contests, ranking 5th in the WNBA in scoring, and 1st in rebounding. She was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday, marking the 15th time in her career she has received the accolade.
The Liberty has fared well in recent meetings with the Atlanta Dream, having won seven of the last eight contests, including 4-of-5 matchups last season. New York is 12-4 all-time against the Dream at Madison Square Garden, and has won five-straight home games in the series dating back to 2014.
Sugar Rodgers is the other Liberty player to have scored in double figures in all three games this season. She finished with 13 points and a pair of 3-pointers in the overtime loss to Los Angeles. Rodgers leads New York with 11 3-pointers.
Lindsey Harding made her first start as a member of the Liberty on Saturday night against the Sparks. She tied for the team lead with four assists, and currently ranks fifth in the league with 5.3 apg.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Sugar Rodgers has scored in double figures in all three games this season, and the Liberty will continue to rely on her to produce an outside scoring threat to balance the dominant performances Tina Charles is turning in regularly in the paint. After scoring a career-high 24 against Dallas, Rodgers had 13 in the overtime loss to the Sparks, but attempted 10 3-pointers, connecting on two.
New York will also look to Rodgers to continue to do a lot of the little things that led to her averaging nearly 34 minutes per game. She also ranks third in the WNBA with 2.7 steals per game, and after hauling in a career-best nine rebounds against LA, she ranks 12th in the league with 7.0 rebounds per contest. Her defensive presence will be key to the Liberty’s ability to neutralize Layshia Clarendon, who is second for Atlanta with 15.3 ppg.
In New York, Tina Charles has had some of the highest usage numbers in the league, and so far the 2016 season is no exception. Through three games, Charles has used 34.7 percent of the Liberty’s offensive plays when she is on the court, the highest rate in the league. Obviously all of the attention is warranted as she is posting an impressive Player Impact Estimate of 24.5, which ranks second in the league for players averaging at least 10 minutes per game.
It did not take long for Kiah Stokes to establish herself as a premier defender in the WNBA, and she is already closing in on the top-10 in Liberty history in blocked shots. After denying four attempts against Los Angeles on May 21, Stokes increased her career tally to 74, needing just six more blocks to tie for 10th place in New York history. She is second in the league with 2.3 bpg so far this season.