One might have expected that the defending WNBA Champion Chicago Sky would make quick work of the New York Liberty. The Sky, after all, had the second best regular season record in the league. But the Liberty went to the Windy City ready to play and scored New York’s first playoff game win since 2015. The Sky didn’t take too kindly to being rocked on home court and replied with not only a win, but also the biggest margin of victory in a WNBA playoff game.
So, it came down to a fateful game three, played on the Liberty’s home court, the first-ever Liberty playoff game at Barclays Center. It was a packed house and stars, including Billie Jean King, were on hand. In the end, the veteran experience of the Sky proved too much for the Liberty, and Chicago advanced with a 90–72 win.
While Chicago led through most of the game, New York kept it close until the fourth quarter when the Sky went on a 16–0 run. The Sky’s Candace Parker had almost a triple double with 14 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. In addition to Parker, five other Sky players scored in double figures.
For the Liberty, the top scorer was Betnijah Laney with 15 points, impressive for a player who returned to action just before the playoffs. Natasha Howard had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Marine Johannes started and had three 3-pointers in the first quarter, but did not score after that. In a heartfelt move, the New York and Chicago players embraced at the end of the game, and Parker praised the Liberty.
This is a Liberty team with huge potential. If the key players—Laney, Howard, Johannes, Sabrina Ionescu, Rebecca Allen, Michaela Onyenwere and Han Xu—return, the team could be a strong presence. Head coach Sandy Brondello is what this team needed.
Television viewership of the first round was up 39% over last year’s first and second rounds. The semi-final round of the WNBA playoffs begin on Sunday. The four-time WNBA Champion Seattle Storm take on the league leading Las Vegas Aces, in hot pursuit of its first WNBA title. The Sky take on either the Dallas Wings or the Connecticut Sun.