Stumbling into the playoffs, Liberty face a tough challenge
TRACY JUSAY Special to the AmNews | 9/28/2012, 4:58 p.m.
The New York Liberty may have stumbled into the playoffs by way of help from one of their conference rivals, but they're still headed there on a high note.
After suffering two losses on the road, the Liberty bounced back and ended the WNBA regular season with some momentum, defeating the Tulsa Shock 91-74 on Saturday afternoon. Despite finishing the season with a 15-19 record, the Liberty aren't looking to dwell on that as they shift into playoff mode this week. On Thursday night, they will open the first round in a best-of-three series against the top-seeded Connecticut Sun.
Plenette Pierson is looking forward to the postseason and is confident the team will be ready to take on the top team in the Eastern Conference.
"We have to first of all get some rest," Pierson said. "We know they have great guards and great post players. We just have to come in focused. We have to play our defense and have high-energy halves, not just high-energy quarters and high-energy periods, to even be in the game with Connecticut."
The key to the Liberty winning the series will depend on how well they play. After a season filled with inconsistency, winning will not be easy, but it's not improbable. They will have to set the tone from the start and play consistently for 40 minutes in order to match up well with the Sun.
While it is a given that Cappie Pondexter will look to dominate the scoreboard, having help from shooters Essence Carson and Nicole Powell will be key, as the Sun will look to contain Pondexter in every way possible.
Perhaps the biggest key to defeating the Sun is winning the rebounding battle by shutting down the Sun's lead center and Queens native Tina Charles. Kara Braxton and Kia Vaughn will be depended upon to defend Charles, as they will look to impose their size and presence in the paint. Overall, the Liberty will need to lock down on defense and execute offensively from the start.
They have shown what they are capable of and have demonstrated the ability to beat good teams on any given night. It all comes down to the Liberty playing together as a team, from the opening tip to the final buzzer. After playing Game 1 in Connecticut, the Liberty will play Game 2 on Saturday at the Prudential Center.