Brooklyn Boro

Liberty ready for ‘crazy’ end to stand

Host Atlanta Thursday and Minnesota Friday in make-up

July 27, 2023 John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The Eastern Conference-leading New York Liberty haven’t played on back-to-back nights yet this season.

They’ll have to do so Thursday and Friday at Downtown’s Barclays Center just two days after overcoming an 18-point deficit in Tuesday’s 86-82 victory over Seattle here.

New York (17-5) opened this previously unexpected season-high four-game homestand with Sunday’s 101-83 blowout of Indiana, and will be bidding to complete its fourth four-game winning streak of the year against the Dream (13-10) in the opener of these consecutive contests.

“Four (games) in six days,” head coach Sandy Brondello said of the brutal stretch. “The schedule is crazy, but we can’t use that as an excuse. We have to fight.”

They also might not have much breathing room for the back-to-back bouts if they hope to maintain their slim lead atop the East.

Second-place Connecticut (18-6), the defending champion of the East, is percentage points behind the Liberty and is off until Sunday, when it hosts Minnesota (11-13).

By then, New York would have completed its two-step against Atlanta and the Lynx and will be headed to Los Angeles to open a two-game set vs. the Sparks (8-15).

This was slated to be a three-game stand at Barclays, but the originally scheduled June 7 home matchup against Minnesota was postponed due to air quality issues in New York stemming from last month’s Canadian wildfires.

“The city has been placed under an Air Quality Health Advisory until Thursday morning. This decision has been made to protect the health and safety of our fans, teams and community,” the team said in a statement.

Fresh off rallying for their biggest comeback win of the year, spearheaded by All-Star Sabrina Ionescu’s fourth career triple-double, the Liberty will be aiming for their third win in four meetings with the Dream this year.

Liberty All-Star guard Sabrina Ionescu, enjoying a rare night off this week, threw out the first pitch before Wednesday’s Mets-Yankees game in the Bronx. AP Photo by Frank Franklin II

New York dominated Atlanta, 106-83, on the road in the initial encounter on June 9 behind a career-high 37 points and franchise-record eight 3-pointers by Ionescu.

The Dream struck back at Barclays four days later, pulling out an 86-79 win while Ionescu sat out with a hamstring injury.

The Liberty thumped the Dream again in Atlanta, 110-83, on June 23 as Ionescu returned to the hardwood. Though she only scored eight points in that contest, Betnijah Laney poured in 19 and Marine Johannes added 18 while burying five 3-pointers.

Winners of eight of their last 10 games, the Dream will enter Brooklyn off Tuesday’s 78-65 win over Phoenix. AD Durr and Allisha Gray scored 12 points apiece for Atlanta, which ended a two-game slide.

The Lynx will arrive here Friday with two victories in their last three contests, including Wednesday’s 97-92 home triumph over Washington.

Napheesa Collier led Minnesota with 24 points and 11 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the year and Diamond Miller added 21 points and nine assists.

It marked just the second time in 11 tries this season that the Lynx beat a team with a winning record.

New York hasn’t played games on consecutive days since last Aug. 2-3, when it won both vs. Los Angeles here in Brooklyn.

MVP candidate Breanna Stewart and the Liberty will host Atlanta here on Thursday before welcoming Minnesota to Brooklyn Friday. Photo by Brandon Todd/New York Liberty

GIVE ME LIBERTY: The Liberty are 10-3 this season vs. conference opponents. They also lead the East in rebounding with 37.7 boards per game. … After its two-game visit to L.A. (Sunday and Tuesday), New York will travel to Minnesota on Aug. 4 for the second and final meetings between the squads this year. … Ionescu’s fourth triple-double Tuesday tied her with Las Vegas’ Candace Parker for the second-most in WNBA history. Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas holds the mark with five triple-doubles, including her third of the season vs. New York on June 27.

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