There was no getting around it: the Liberty had to go on the road and steal a game if they were to have a shot at winning its first round series against Indiana. That tenet still holds true, but the twist is that New York must first win tonight at the Prudential Center in order to survive.
The Liberty have their backs against the wall, trailing Indiana 1-0 in the best of three series. You don’t have to be a math whiz to figure out that the Libs are in a lose-and-go- home scenario. So what are the chances that New York wins tonight and heads to a deciding third game in Indiana? I think the Libs not only have a shot tonight, but I think they’ll win convincingly and come back to take the series. The SERIES?! Are you serious? Yes, I am.
This is perhaps the most evenly-matched 1 vs. 4 series ever. I’m not going to say that the Liberty should’ve won game 1, but they certainly could have taken it. The Libs lost 74-72 while not playing their best game. Leilani Mitchell, Plenette Pierson and Nicole Powell (three of the five starters) didn’t play exceptionally well and they combined for just 24 points. Though Essence Carson and Kara Braxton were strong scorers off the bench, there just wasn’t enough firepower to back Cappie Pondexter.
The game 1 loss definitely leaves a sour taste in many players’ mouths, particularly those that didn’t play to their potential. That fact has to fuel their aggression in game 2, and I expect Pierson and/or Powell to come up big – a 15+ point effort. The 3-point shooting should improve over Thursday night’s 31 percent. The Libs typically shoot well at the Prudential Center, so let’s hope New York’s shooters (I’m looking at you, Leilani and Nicole) come up big.
Now that they’re in dire straights, the New York defense is going to play stingier than ever. The defensive unit kept Indiana star Tamika Catchings to just 15 points but allowed All-Star Katie Douglas to go off for 25. On Wednesday, I predicted a Liberty win if they could hold Catchings to sub-20 points; I might have to amend and also suggest that they don’t let Douglas beat them either.
The Libs and Fever will tip off at 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Prudential Center.