Liberty Take On Mercury In Phoenix

Ros Gold-Onwude

The New York Liberty (5-4) battle out west with the Phoenix Mercury, Tuesday, July 2nd, at 10:00 pm ET.

The Liberty come off of their first road win of the season against the Seattle Storm, 67-62, on Friday June 28th. Cappie Pondexter scored 16 of her game high 23 points in the second half to lead the Liberty to victory. She added 6 rebounds but also had 4 turnovers and shot 9-24 from the floor. Leilani Mitchell scored 10 points and Kara Braxton put in work on the boards grabbing 14 rebounds with 8 points. The Liberty outrebounded Seattle 46-26 with 5 players boasting 6 rebounds or more in the game. New York continues to struggle with turnovers and gave up 22.

On the season the Liberty only have one double-digit scorer in Pondexter who averages 17.7 points per game on 36% shooting from the field. Their best three-point threat is Mitchell who shoots 42% from three. Kara Braxton leads the team in rebounding with 7.7 a game.

The Phoenix Mercury (7-4) are on a four game winning streak and look like the dangerous team people predicted them to be in the preseason. After losing their first three games, the Mercury have won seven of their last eight. They come off an 89-70 win over the Connecticut Sun on Saturday, June 29. Diana Taurasi scored 19 points and added 5 assists and 5 rebounds. DeWanna Bonner also scored 19 points to go along with 8 rebounds. Candice Dupree pumped out 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. This season’s number one draft pick Brittney Griner added 9 points and 5 rebounds. Guard Penny Taylor made her debut back on the court after sitting out with a knee injury. She had 8 points and 3 assists in less than 13 minutes. Phoenix is stacked with talent. After a tough start to the season they returned to their up-tempo style of play in which they can best exploit all the different scoring options they have. Taurasi leads the league in scoring and Griner leads the league in blocks. The Mercury have four players averaging double digit points. They lead the league in point per game, but on the flip side, are the league’s worst scoring defense.

Keys To The Game:

Control Tempo.

The Liberty do not have the number of weapons Phoenix has, therefore, each possession needs to be purposeful. The Liberty should run opportunistically and avoid a reckless fast paced game where they may be more inclined to turn the ball over, something they struggle with.

Transition D and Defensive Rebounds.

The Mercury like to run-and-gun and shoot quickly. The Liberty must get back on defense and not allow them to gain momentum off of big scoring runs. Once Phoenix takes a shot, New York must box out and keep them “one-and-done” on the glass as often as possible.

Defend Penetration.

Outside of Taurasi, Phoenix is not a good three-point shooting team. Play them for penetration and points in the paint.