Bold Predictions for the New York Liberty in the WNBA Playoffs vs. Sun
As the New York Liberty gear up for their 2023 WNBA Playoffs series against the Connecticut Sun, all eyes are on whether they can fulfill their preseason expectations as the top challengers to the Las Vegas Aces’ throne. Here are two bold predictions for the Liberty as they enter this critical series:
The New York Liberty’s Bench Dominance: While the Liberty boasts considerable star power with the likes of Sabrina Ionescu, Betnijah Laney, Breanna Stewart, Courtney Vandersloot, and Jonquel Jones, their bench has been a hidden strength this season. This group includes Marine Johannes and Kayla Thornton, both of whom could easily contend for the Sixth Woman of the Year award, despite official voting results suggesting otherwise.
Kayla Thornton, acquired in the Jonquel Jones trade, has emerged as a vital contributor to the team. Stefanie Dolson, a key part of the Chicago Sky’s 2021 championship team, has adapted seamlessly to her reserve role, adding size to the Liberty’s bench.
This trio brings a well-rounded combination of offense and defense to the table. In Johannes and Thornton, the Liberty possesses players who could start for many other teams. The Connecticut Sun’s bench is formidable as well, featuring Sixth Woman of the Year candidate DiJonai Carrington, along with Tyasha Harris and Olivia Nelson-Ododa. Harris notably emerged as the Sun’s third-highest scorer in the first round of the playoffs against the Minnesota Lynx.
In playoff basketball, the contributions of role players often become crucial, and the Liberty’s bench has consistently provided an extra boost throughout the season. While their production may have dipped slightly in the first round against the Mystics, expect them to return to their regular-season form in this series.
Jonquel Jones Will Shine for the Liberty: Despite a roster filled with star talent, one player poised to stand out in the Liberty’s series against the Connecticut Sun is Jonquel Jones. While Breanna Stewart and Sabrina Ionescu are MVP-caliber players, Jones is primed to lead the charge.
Jones joined the Liberty ahead of their major free-agent acquisitions. A former MVP and four-time All-Star, she initially faced challenges in finding her rhythm with the team. However, her performance played a pivotal role in helping the Liberty overcome the Mystics in the playoffs.
In the previous series, Jones ranked as the Liberty’s second-leading scorer, and there’s no reason why she can’t replicate that feat against the Sun. With her former teammate Brionna Jones sidelined due to an ACL injury, the Sun lacks the size to effectively contain Jonquel Jones.
While the Sun boasts a formidable frontline in Alyssa Thomas and DeWanna Bonner, they may struggle to match up with Jones’s size and skills. Stewart is likely to be tasked with guarding Bonner, leaving Ionescu and Laney to handle the defense of Natisha Hiedeman and Tiffany Hayes. Jones is ideally positioned to have a standout series for the Liberty.
The key for Liberty will be to establish her presence early and consistently feed the post throughout the series. Jones’s performance could be the driving force behind the Liberty’s success in defeating the Sun and advancing to the WNBA Finals.