Did Olympic Break Stop Liberty Momentum?
It was ironic that on a night where two gold medalists from the 2016 Rio Olympics were in attendance that the New York Liberty (21-12) were flat in performance. In fact, they have been this way, since returning from the month-long break.
The only thing working in the 75-62 loss to the Washington Mystics (12-19) was Tina Charles, herself a gold-medal winning Olympian. Her 22 points, 11 rebound performance was her 20th double-double of the season. The rest of the Liberty struggled against the Mystics, hardly resembled the team that gave them fits in last years playoff opening series. The most recognizable player may have been old teammate Leliani Mitchell who came off the bench.
As Ibtihaj Muhammad (US Fencing) watched, Washington jumped on the Liberty 17-2 to start the game. Amazingly, New York climbed back in it by the half. But this game was a microcosm of their season. When they are on, its magnificent, when they are not, it’s a ways from last years level. It’s why they are the third seed and playing a single elimination playoff opener in the second round at Madison Square Garden.
Can they suddenly turn on the switch? Will Kiah Stokes and Tanisha Wright return from their injuries in top form? Is Epiphanny Prince in battle shape after just getting back after a serious knee injury? Is Sugar Rodgers the true second option when MVP candidate Charles is double and triple teamed as she has been all year. Is Swin Cash ready to provide a vintage performance in her final shot at a championship?
All good questions which will be answered on September 24 at Madison Square Garden. Until then, New York closes out its season in Chicago looking to fine tune their game. With nothing to play for, can the Liberty find the magic and make this 20th season a true landmark season. It remains to be seen but the ability is there.
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