The New York Liberty clinch their 2022 playoff spot with two huge wins over the weekend vs. the Atlanta Dream. As the No. 7 seed the Liberty will play the No. 2 seed and defending champion, the Chicago Sky. The two teams will face off in a best of three series for round 1. For the Liberty, this will be their first multi-game playoff break since 2017.
As apart of the new WNBA Playoff format, the higher seed will host the first two games. The first two games will take place at Wintrust arena. Game 1 begins at 8 p.m. on August 17. Game 2 will be at 11 a.m on August 20. Lastly, Game 3 will take place on August 23, the time will be determined. The winner of the series will move on to Round 2. Round 2 will be a best of 5 series vs the winner of the No. 3 seed, the Connecticut Sun, and the No. 6 seed, the Dallas Wings.
Clinching playoff vs. Atlanta Dream
The Liberty needed to win one game and for the Mercury to lose their game to make their playoff wishes come true. However, to keep the faith in their own hands, they defeated the Dream in their last two regular season games. The second to last game ended with a score of 80-70 and the last game 87-83. These wins placed them in the 8-team bracket of the WNBA playoffs as the No. 7 seed.
With the help of 4x Eastern Conference Player of the Week and 2x Eastern Conference Player of the Month Sabrina Ionescu, the Liberty were able to have a chance in the playoffs. In the second to last game Ionescu recorded 15 points, 6 assists and 8 rebounds. In the last game, Ionescu struggled to score going 1-12 from the floor finishing with 5 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds.
Nonetheless, she had assistance from her great teammates in both games. Liberty’s All-Star Center Natasha Howard finished the second to last game with 14 points and 12 rebounds. In the last game, she was the player of the game ending with 18 points and 9 rebounds.
In the second to last game Crystal Dangerfield was the player of the game, finishing with 18 points and 6 assists. Betnijah Laney also contributed with 17 points.
In the last game of the regular season,
Stefanie Dolson had a monster game with 15 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists. Marine Johannes contributed 18 points and 4 assists off the bench.
Last year during the 2021 season the Liberty faced the Phoenix Mercury in a one game elimination for the first round of the playoffs. This is not apart of the new format of the WNBA playoffs.
The New York Liberty have not been in the Finals since 2002. In fact, four of the first six WNBA seasons consisted of the Liberty being in the finals. Although they never won they still made their presence known. Slowly working their way back up basketball fans are excited to see what the Liberty will bring to the playoffs this year.
Liberty vs. Sky Matchups
Losing by one in last year’s elimination round was heartbreaking for Liberty players and fans. Ending of the regular season winning six of their last eight games set the tone for the Liberty going into the the playoffs to play the Sky, who won the championship last year. The Sky returned all but two of its players from last year’s title. Dolson and Diamond DeShields were traded to Phoenix Mercury and the sky acquired All-Star Emma Meesseman.
The Sky and Liberty have played four times this season and the sky went 3-1 in those games. But the Liberty should not be counted out as they have some very tough players who are willing to do whatever to win. The playoffs bring a different energy, regular season wins do not guarantee playoff wins.
Stay tuned for more WNBA playoff games.