It’s the game that everyone in the Liberty fandom has been waiting for, and for one half it looked like it was going to be the fairy tale that was wished for.
On Sunday, the New York Liberty hosted the Seattle Storm in Brooklyn at Barclays Center. The team has spent the past two seasons playing at Westchester County Center in White Plains, a decision that’s been met by a lot of resistance in the WNBA community. Joe Tsai’s purchase of the Liberty led to hopes that this year would be the final year in White Plains and that Barclays could be the team’s new home. Was Sunday a preview of what that looks like?
New York went into the half with a 45-43 lead as they looked to break a four-game losing streak, but a pair of 12-point quarters in the second half led to a 84-69 loss for New York.
Tina Charles had 20 points in the first half, but the Liberty star was a non-factor in the second half of the game, scoring just two points. Charles did finish 10-for-16 from the floor, though, as she continues to score the ball more efficiently after the All-Star break.
Kia Nurse failed to reach double-figures for the second game in a row, scoring three points on 1-for-8 shooting, but Bria Hartley picked up some of that slack, scoring 17 points on 5-for-11 shooting with six rebounds and four assists. Hartley started because Asia Durr (minor groin strain) missed the game. Also missing was starting center Amanda Zahui B, who missed the game with a concussion. Reshanda Gray started in her place.
For Seattle, Alysha Clarke led the way with 21 points. Natasha Howard and Sami Whitcomb also scored in double figures. Howard and Mercedes Russell each had eight rebounds.
Former Liberty member Shavonte Zellous had four assists for Seattle, but she missed both of her shot attempts.
Let’s look at some takeaways from this one.
Rebecca Allen Scores Without The Three
I’ve been talking a lot about how Rebecca Allen needs to be on the floor more and taking more threes to spread the floor.
Well, one of those things happened on Sunday.
Allen was 4-for-9 from the field for eight points. Some math will tell you that can’t score eight points on four shots without all four being twos. In fact, Allen didn’t even attempt a three in this game.
What she did do was this:
Allen got the chance to show off some her post moves, something we don’t get to see too much of. The results were good! In addition to this play above, Allen had a pair of layups too: one where she got the ball around the top of the key and drove in, and another where she cut into the paint from the baseline and positioned herself for a Tina Charles assist while Charles was being doubled.
I think Allen’s one of the more underrated players on this team. That she’s back to a 20-ish minute per game role is good news for this team if they want to be competitive the rest of the season, and at the right cost it would be good to see Allen as a bench piece on the next competitive version of this Liberty team.
Brittany Boyd Back In The Rotation?
When asked about why Boyd didn’t play in New York’s last game, head coach Katie Smith said:
Durr’s absence allowed a spot for Boyd in the rotation, but even with a fairly well-rounded game on Sunday (four points, three rebounds, three assists, two steals), I don’t think we’ll see Boyd much when everyone is healthy.
Boyd’s a fine backup point guard and while she lacks the scoring upside of the rest of New York’s options, she’s a hard-nosed defender who does a lot of the little things you want to see from a player.
But if the rest of this season is about upside and building for the future, it’s easy to see why Boyd’s the odd woman out. We know who Brittany Boyd is. She could thrive in a backup role on a contending team, because she’d be able to focus on the things she’s best at. But New York has that steady hand in Tanisha Wright at the point, and they want to see if any of their other guards are prepared to take a step forward.
Of course, the other question is how long Durr will be out. If this is the same minor groin strain that cost her games in July, will she miss three or four games this time around? Should she have been playing at all
Kia Nurse Struggles
Nurse made her first All-Star appearance this year, so it’s easy to forget she’s just a second-year player who had a very uneven rookie season. And yet, she finds herself thrust into a role as the second-best player on a rebuilding team in her second season. She’s done a really good job in that role, but not every game is going to go her way.
Nurse was 1-for-6 from deep, and while she got a few good looks that didn’t fall, Seattle did a good job putting pressure on her, which caused her to short arm a few of the attempts.
I do wonder if the heavy minutes Nurse has played — remember, there have been times she played all 40 minutes this year — could be having an effect on her at this point. While the Liberty have a pretty deep frontcourt rotation and guard rotation, the team’s a little less deep at the three, which is why Nurse has gotten so much run there. As this team continues to fade from the playoff picture, it could be time to limit Nurse’s minutes a little.