The New York Liberty stand atop the Eastern Conference at the moment, with a 3-1 record. In four games they have beat the Dream, Mercury, and Fever. Their lone loss came at the hands of the Washington Mystics last Saturday.
When Washington faces the Liberty later today, they’ll look to be the first team this season to win in Madison Square Garden. The Liberty are 3-0 at home on the young season. Tina Charles is on a tear to start the year, letting everyone know that she expects her name to be on the MVP ballot this year. She’s averaging 18.8 points and 8 rebounds through four games this season, more impressive are her three assists per game. She’s done a good job creating shots for teammates while being the focus of every team’s defensive plans.
The Liberty boast one of the league’s best front courts in the league in her, Swin Cash and rookie Kiah Stokes. That trio played a big role the last time these two teams met, the game was decided down on the block. While Stokes’ rebounding and defense have translated just fine to the WNBA from college, her versatile offensive game has not yet arrived. The biggest issue being the physicality at this level, she’ll get it going soon enough. New York’s guards complement the bigs well, but they don’t possess that one lead guard as of yet that commands attention from defenses.
The Mystics are coming off of their first loss of the season, the Atlanta Dream made the trip to D.C. and left with a win two days ago. Washington’s young team learned a very valuable lesson, not to let their foot off the gas. The Mystics had a 13 point lead at one time during the third quarter, instead of pushing the lead into the 20’s, they let the Dream hang around.
Come the fourth quarter, the Dream realized they were in striking distance and they made a move to take the game. Angel McCoughtry hit the go-ahead basket, it was a contested three pointer.
Washington has yet to have their full complement of players, but for a team with this type of depth, there’s no excuses. Coach Thibault started the post game presser by saying ‘We gave one away’ and it was the truth.
Washington had to get over that loss quickly as they’ll be taking on the top team in the East, New York will be looking to avenge their only loss this season (to Washington). The Mystics offense has yet to get on track, but they’ve had two quality wins. Eventually things will start to fall and they’ll score more than the 67 points a game they’re averaging.
Keys to Victory
- Take care of the ball. Washington hasn’t done a great job of taking care of the ball this season. It’s still early on, but with their shots not yet falling, they must reduce the errors elsewhere to get back on the winning side of things
- Relax. There’s far too many shot makers on this team, eventually shots will fall. Maybe the shooters are pressing, but if they just keep running the offense, those great looks will fall
- Don’t forget Emma. Meesseman has led the team in scoring in two of their three outings, the youngster is making her case to be a primary option on the offensive end. They can’t go away from her again during games, especially against a team with bigs like New York
- Rebound. In the first matchup, Washington didn’t have Kia Vaughn. Her return should definitely help the Mystics get even if not win the battle on the glass
- Run. The Mystics are built to run. A couple times against Atlanta, they eased up on the pace and Atlanta got back into it. Have to take advantage of their depth and team speed. Run opposing teams into the ground, especially one with a plethora of bigs like NY