Thursday Night Circles: Liberty Host Mystics

One second away. On Sunday afternoon, the New York Liberty took on defending WNBA champions Chicago Sky and were one second away from knocking the champions down. However, Courtney Vandersloot hit a game three winner and handed the Liberty a crushing defeat at Barclays Center.

The opponent tonight will be the Washington Mystics. Mike Thibault and his friends hold on and think they are a threat come playoff time. They split a two-game set against the Phoenix Mercury after winning 83-65 on Tuesday night at DC.

Where to watch the game

YES Network App has us covered. Tipping after 7 p.m.

injuries

Didi Richards has been hampered by a hamstring injury all season and is listed as likely to play tonight. Rebecca Allen was bothered by a non-COVID illness and is listed as questionable. Betnijah Laney and Jocelyn Willoughby are out.

Elena Delle Donne is out for a day off.

The game

The Libs won the first a few weeks ago.

Sabrina Ionescu will be looking to follow one of the best games of her career. Sab scored a triple double on Sunday as his 13/27/12 wowed the basketball world. She matched a season-high five three-pointers the first time she played in Washington and her shooting will look to revive Liberty’s offense tonight. With Ionescu able to get down, it opens up for the Liberty and with flanking shooters around her, she’ll help create a boatload of open threes for her teammates.

Natasha Cloud is thinking of getting the Ionescu mission again tonight. She had her struggles the first time around as she posted a season-high six turnovers in 32 minutes. Cloud bumped it up to fourth as she made big baskets to keep the game close. Cloud warned the W that she’s a shooter this year, and it might be a good idea to put that to the test tonight. In June, she shot just 17.9 percent from three points on about five attempts per night. If the Liberty can keep her there, they’ll have a great chance of shutting down the Mystics’ offense.

Didi Richards thinks she’ll be back tonight, but as Sandy Brondello mentioned in training for Myles Ehrlich of Republic of nets and Winsidr, his minutes will be limited. Richards’ return to the field will give the team a little more size and ball handling on the perimeter. The team is still far from complete, but it is getting there day by day.

As in every game, it will come down to turnovers. The ‘stics are fourth in points on turnovers and also fourth in opponent points on turnovers. The Liberty are at their best pushing the ball in transition and getting easy buckets against defenses that are undefined. They will have to be careful and avoid mistakes that will give this team easy baskets.

Without EDD, Myisha Hines-Allen will return to the starting five. Allen is giving the team some size up front to help make up for Delle Donne’s absence. She will seek to slow down Natasha Howard. Tash only shot 7-20 from the field, but ignore that. She upped it in the fourth quarter and made it a game-winning three-pointer with the game hanging in the balance. Having a vet like Howard who can shake off a bad night of shooting, stay on defense and stay confident in his game to deliver late is incredibly valuable and exactly what a young team like this needs every night.

Player to watch: Shakira Austin

This year’s rookie class was damn good! We’ll see Rhyne Howard next week when the Liberty take on the Atlanta Dream, and tonight we’ll see the third pick. Austin had a hell of a match against future Hall of Famer Tina Charles on Tuesday night and got the post-game interview with ESPN’s Holly Rowe:

She is like that ! Austin is 17th in rebounds this season and is also shooting 58.3% from the field. Austin can hit a few jumpers, but she’s most effective near the basket.

The center duo will be looking to keep the good times going tonight. The departure of Stef Dolson from the top position opened things up for her teammates and created great scoring opportunities. Han Xu was automatic coming off the bench and is incredibly tough coverage for big opponents. The Liberty were one rebound from beating the Sky on Sunday, and the dynamic duo will need to own the boards tonight if the team is to come away with the win.

From the safe

Unfinished business was Monday night, so let’s step back and take an in-depth look at one of the most defining moments in team and league history.

And while most everyone was asleep, Beyonce announced that she was back with a new album on July 29! There’s so many avenues we can take, so we’ll head here

More reading: Bullets Forever, Swish Appeal, Just Women’s Sports, Winsidr and The Next

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