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A summer version of his fall rally at the opening season of Liberty’s Barclays Center comes from the neighborhood that beat us in baseball: “Wait until next year:” Why wait for next year? “

Updated Liberty quickly jumped from last season’s 2-20 win – at 8-9, they quadrupled their wins in five lesser games – to the playoffs in the middle of the WNBA table; came out as a contender for the off.

Eight of the 12 teams will advance to next season. The Las Vegas Aces, Seattle Storm and Connecticut Sun are all set to leave the field and provide these three. Indiana Fever, who finished last, is sadly 1-15.

So, depending on how you measure Chicago Sky for the four teams that are vying for five places in the tight center of the tournament table – four places that are fighting for four places, Kandas Parker o. Teams that are 9-1 when they score and 1-7 when he doesn’t.

The advanced figures are not so good for Liberty, which ranks 11th in the league in the net rankings (minus-6.8 points for every 100 possessions, predicts 6-11 entries in the basketball reference), but they can be comforted in the table – nine of the remaining 15 games are at home, 10 of the 15 games are against teams that started on Wednesday at .500 or worse.

New York Liberty celebrates victory over Chicago Sky in WNBA basketball game
Liberty quadrupled its 2020 victory.
AP photos

Here’s what needs to be tracked, and what will determine if Walt Hopkins ’squad breaks through the post-season lineup or is forced to mutter“ wait until next year ”:

Which Sabrina Ionescu will they get?

It has become a defeated college phenomenon around the world — No. Who scored 17.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 7.8 assists in his first six games, including a historic triple-double?

Or in recent weeks, even the 23-year-old goalkeeper, who has been slow in counter-defense, in his current rock season. “I’ve seen them all in college,” Ionescu said recently, “but of course at this level, IQ, athleticism, passing windows, it’s all shrinking, and you can read them and make those decisions in a second.” – and by stopping the recovery of the left ankle ligaments last summer.

Ionescu averaged 5.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists in his last nine games. He shoots a total of 33.1 percent. He sat in two games to rest his ankles in mid-June and has been on the limit for a few minutes since then.

New York Liberty No. 20 Sabrina Ionescu drives a basket against the Chicago Sky.
Sabrina Ionescu is still adapting to the WNBA game.
Getty Images

“It’s one of those things that is inevitable,” Hopkins said. “We would have done a more minute restriction, but in fact he has to practice, he has to get representatives, so it’s a mixed bag. … I think it will just be back and forth for some parts of this season. The Olympic break will definitely be very important for him to rest and continue playing, but he will take some of the burden off his feet. ”

Can Betnija Laney maintain her star level?

The contract, signed by Liberty after the season, gave the 27-year-old traveling winger Laney, who won the Best Players award in 2020, a bright look. On Wednesday, Laney was named the All-Star for the first time, averaging 19.7 points (sixth in the league) and 5.3 assists (seventh), often defending the other team’s best perimeter player. As Ionescu slowed, he was forced into more playmaking duties.

“The amount we believe in him is attack, defense, leadership, scoring, passing, kicking. I mean, a lot of things are required of him for our team, especially in injuries,” Hopkins said last week. from a defensive, role-playing, energetic player … I can’t talk enough about B to become one of the best two-way players in the league and a great leader and teammate. ”

Is Natasha Howard missing?

New York Liberty No. 20 Sabrina Ionescu drives the basket
Natasha Howard
Getty Images

Howard was to round out Liberty’s Big 3, which was purchased through a blockbuster sale this winter. But repeating the other Big 3 in the building, they were rarely in court. Howard arrived late under quarantine, then suffered MCL syndrome in his second game under the sea. But even in a small sample, he chose the much-needed defensive anchor and explosive: in the 44th minute, Liberty scored 12.3 points for every 100 possessions. Howard’s return is now in the spotlight – Liberty gave up reserve center Kiyah Stokes on Wednesday.

Does this tie fit the wearer?

Liberty are currently 1-0 against the Dallas Wings (8-9), Phoenix Mercury (8-7), Minnesota Links (7-8) and Los Angeles Sparks (6-9). has an advantage over the account. They have one home and one road game on the wings, a home game with Mercury (his defender Skylar Diggins-Smith told Liberty Reserve Jazmin Jones to “shut down” on Twitter), two road dates against Lynx and Sparks a single home game.

Or what about this subplot? The final game could be against former Liberty franchise player Tina Charles, who will be in the MVP-caliber season for the Washington Mystics (7-9) in Brooklyn, and could play in the playoffs.

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