2023 WNBA Playoffs: New York Liberty vs. Connecticut Sun Semifinal Overview, Schedule, How to Watch, and Prediction
In the ongoing semifinal showdown between the New York Liberty and the Connecticut Sun, another night of thrilling action brought surprises. While a rebounding performance from the Liberty was anticipated in Game 2, their employment of a zone defense left fans and experts astonished. Nevertheless, this strategy proved successful as the Liberty secured an 84-77 win, leveling the series at 1-1.
The Liberty faced a challenging draw in the first round against the Washington Mystics, a team that was notably underseeded. Despite the competition’s intensity, they emerged victorious, marking their first playoff series win since 2015. Now, they stand just three wins away from their first trip to the Finals since 2002.
Conversely, the Sun was the sole higher seed to drop a game in the first round. However, they encountered minimal difficulty against the Minnesota Lynx, securing two convincing wins to advance to the semifinals for the fifth consecutive season, a streak tied for the longest active one in the league.
Here’s all you need to know about this captivating semifinal series:
(2) New York Liberty vs. (3) Connecticut Sun Game 1: Sun 78, Liberty 63 (Sun lead series 1-0)
Game 2: Liberty 84, Sun 77 (Series tied 1-1)
Game 3: Liberty at Sun Date: Friday, Sept. 26 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET Location: Mohegan Sun Arena — Uncasville, Connecticut TV channel: ESPN 2 | Live stream: fubo (try for free) Odds: Liberty -4 | O/U: 159.5 Game 4: Liberty at Sun, Sunday, Oct. 1, 3 p.m. ET — ABC
Game 5*: Sun at Liberty, Tuesday, Oct. 3, TBD — ESPN U *If necessary
Key Players to Watch: Liberty: Jonquel Jones
Jonquel Jones is poised to dominate the paint in this series, much like her performance in the first round against the Washington Mystics. Averaging 19 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game on an impressive 61.9% shooting, Jones poses a considerable challenge for the Sun’s defense.
Sun: Alyssa Thomas
Alyssa Thomas remains the linchpin of the Sun’s operations, excelling as their best defender, top rebounder, primary playmaker, and second-leading scorer. Her influence is undeniable, as the team’s performance varies significantly when she is on the court. Thomas’ versatility is pivotal to the Sun’s success.
Three Critical Factors in the Series:
Alyssa Thomas’ Matchup Challenge: Alyssa Thomas, though a potential MVP candidate, faces challenges when playing against the Liberty. In four games against New York this season, Thomas had averaged 11.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, and six assists, and struggled with turnovers, shooting just 32.7% from the field. To achieve success, the Sun needs Thomas to perform at her best.
The Utilization of Jonquel Jones: The Liberty must remember to make the most of Jonquel Jones, one of the league’s most talented players. Game 2 against the Mystics illustrated the importance of feeding her the ball consistently. When the Liberty efficiently involve Jones in their offense, they create favorable scoring opportunities.
Point Shooting Battle: The 2023 Liberty established themselves as the most exceptional 3-point shooting team in WNBA history, setting records for volume and precision. On the contrary, the Sun has been more selective but efficient with their 3-point attempts. In the playoffs, the Sun has upped their frequency while maintaining accuracy, posing a challenge to the Liberty’s defensive capabilities. The outcome of the 3-point shooting contest may be a deciding factor in the series.
Despite the Sun’s remarkable season, they face a formidable challenge in the Liberty, especially in the postseason. The Liberty’s superior talent and favorable matchup make them the favorites to win the series. Given these factors, the prediction favors the Liberty in four games.