The New York Liberty returns to action after a week off to host the defending WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, May 31, at 8 p.m. The Liberty has lost a pair of overtime contests, most recently being edged by the Atlanta Dream last Tuesday, while Minnesota is off to a 5-0 start, beating the Indiana Fever in a Finals rematch last Friday.
Two of the top three scorers in the league will be going head-to-head in Tina Charles (23.5 ppg) and Maya Moore (21.8 ppg). The Liberty has won three in a row in the series, including both matchups last season.
• New York has had a week off since falling to the Atlanta Dream, 85-79, in overtime. The Liberty played back-to-back overtime games for the first time since the 2010 season, but unfortunately fell short in both. Tina Charles led New York in scoring (29), rebounding (10), steals (7), and assists (6) against Atlanta.
• Tina Charles, the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, heads into this week as the league leader in scoring (23.5 ppg) and rebounding (12.0 rpg). She has posted a double-double in all four games this season.
• Tina Charles and Sugar Rodgers have been shouldering a big workload for the Liberty, ranking third and fourth in the league in minutes per game respectively. Charles is averaging 35.5 mpg and Rodgers is at 35.0 mpg.
• The Liberty had the top defensive unit in the WNBA last season and so far this year New York is off to an historic pace, limiting foes to just .339 percent from the field. New York also ranks fourth in the league in points allowed at 77.8 per contest.
• New York swept two games against Minnesota last year, winning the season series for the first time since 2007. The Liberty has won three straight in the series dating back to 2014.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Tanisha Wright fared well in two games against Minnesota last season, averaging 11.5 points and 6.5 assists per game. With Wright expected to continue to contribute from multiple positions, she will likely be relied on to create offensive opportunities as the floor general and a scorer.
Wright has started every game for New York since joining the team in 2015 and has already enjoyed one double-digit scoring effort this season. This game will also feature two of the better defensive units in the league, and Wright is without question a leader for the Liberty on that end of the floor.
Carolyn Swords is coming off a career performance against Atlanta, where she pulled down a personal best 11 rebounds. So far this season, Swords is averaging career bests in scoring (6.5 ppg) and rebounding (5.3 rpg); she has started 26-straight regular season games for the Liberty.
Last season’s Liberty squad was one of the best performing defensive units over the past several years of the league, and with key additions along the front line along with the addition of Shavonte Zellous, there is little reason to think that would be any different in 2016. Through four games, the Liberty ranks second in the WNBA, yielding 77.7 possessions per 40 to opponents. Additionally, teams are shooting just 33.9 percent against New York, first in the league, and all four opponents have shot under 36.0 percent.