Series Preview: (1) Connecticut Sun vs. (4) New York Liberty

Sep 26 2012 1:59PM

By: Anthony Oliva, WNBA.com


Tina Charles and Connecticut take on New York in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
NBAE via Getty Images



Which team will win the Conference Semifinal matchup between Connecticut and New York?
Which team will win the Conference Semifinal matchup between Connecticut and New York?
View Results

Game 1: New York at Connecticut
Thu, Sept. 27, 8 ET, ESPN2
Game 2: Connecticut at New York
Sat Sept. 29, 7 ET, NBATV
Game 3*: New York at Connecticut
Mon, Oct. 1, 7ET, NBATV
* if necessary
The Connecticut Sun, at the top of the Eastern Conference for the majority of the year, held off the Indiana Fever to earn the top seed in the East and many think this could be the year that the Sun get over the hump as they haven’t won a playoff series since 2006. The Liberty, on the other hand, overcame a slow start and surpassed the Sky – a team that won seven of its first eight – to earn the No. 4 seed.

The Sun own the commanding lead in the season series, winning four of the five times they met in 2012 and winning by an average of 14 points, but three of those matchups occurred in the season’s first month. The Liberty have played better in the second half, they own a 9-7 mark since the Olympic break, and they will be upset-minded having missed out on the chance to be a part of one of the most highly anticipated draft lotteries in the history of the league by making the playoffs.

In the post, the Sun would figure to have the advantage with Tina Charles roaming the paint. In Connecticut’s four wins over New York, the MVP candidate scored 21.8 points and 10.3 rebounds. If fellow Olympian Asjha Jones is also able to contribute, then the advantage tilts even more towards the Sun. Jones, who was averaging 13.1 points and 7.7 rebounds before the Olympic Break, played a combined 17 minutes in Connecticut’s final two games after sitting out the previous 13 with an injury she sustained playing for Team USA.

For the Liberty, it’s all about Cappie Pondexter. They go as she goes. She’s third in the league in scoring – and averages nearly nine points more than New York’s second scorer – and leads the Liberty in assists and steals. At 5-foot-9 she carries a big burden and if the Liberty are going to pull the upset, Pondexter will have to be at her best.

Pondexter will be marked at times by Kara Lawson, one of the main reasons Connecticut was able to win the East. In her tenth season in the league, Lawson is averaging career highs in points, rebounds and assists. Her emergence has allowed the team to move Renee Montgomery to the bench, which will give the Liberty some fresh legs if they opt to use Lawson and Montgomery on Pondexter.

The series kicks off in Connecticut on Thursday night. The winner will face the victor of the Indiana-Atlanta series with a berth to the WNBA Finals on the line.

Some fast facts about the first-round matchup:

-- Connecticut is fourth in the league in scoring (81.6) while New York is tenth (73.1)

-- Connecticut averages only 1.03 more rebounds a game than New York

-- After starting all 34 games last year, Connecticut’s Renee Montgomery has come off the bench in every outing in 2012

-- Tina Charles’ 18 double-doubles was tied with Candace Parker for first in the league

-- Pondexter scored over 20 points in a game 19 times this year, including a stretch of five in a row in September



2012 Regular Season: Connecticut 4, New York 1

Saturday, May 19, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY: Sun 78, Liberty 72 | Box Score | Highlights
Connecticut Leaders: Tina Charles (19 pts., 13 reb.), Asjha Jones (12 pts., 8 reb.)
New York Leaders: Cappie Pondexter (19 pts., 5 reb.), Plenette Pierson (15 pts., 10 reb.)

Sunday, May 20, Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT: Sun 92, Liberty 77 | Box Score
Connecticut Leaders: Tina Charles (25 pts., 11 reb.), Asjha Jones (20 pts., 8 reb.)
New York Leaders: Cappie Pondexter (18 pts., 4 ast.), Plenette Pierson (16 pts., 5 reb.)

Friday, June 15, Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT: Sun 97, Liberty 55 | Box Score
Connecticut Leaders: Tina Charles (20 pts., 8 reb.), Asjha Jones (10 pts., 8 reb.)
New York Leaders: Essence Carson (14 pts., 1 reb.), Cappie Pondexter (6 pts., 5 ast.)

Thursday, August 16, Prudential Center, Newark, NJ: Liberty 79, Sun 66 | Box Score | Highlights
Connecticut Leaders: Renee Montgomery (16 pts., 3 reb.), Mistie Mims (12 pts., 5 reb.)
New York Leaders: Cappie Pondexter (24 pts., 5 reb.), Plenette Pierson (16 pts., 4 reb.)

Saturday, August 18, Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT: Sun 85, Liberty 74 | Box Score
Connecticut Leaders: Tina Charles (23 pts., 9 reb.), Kara Lawson (21 pts., 5 ast.)
New York Leaders: Cappie Pondexter (17 pts., 5 ast.), Essence Carson (17 pts., 3 ast.)



See how the teams match up position by position

Kara Lawson, G, Sun
15.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 4.0 APG
Cappie Pondexter, G, Liberty
20.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 4.3 APG
Kalana Greene, G, Sun
4.2 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.7 APG
Essence Carson, G, Liberty
11.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.7 APG
Allison Hightower, G, Sun
6.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.5 APG
Nicole Powell, F, Liberty
7.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.4 APG
Asjha Jones, F, Sun
12.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 2.0 APG
Plenette Pierson, F, Liberty
12.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.3 APG
Tina Charles, C, Sun
18.0 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 1.7 APG
Kara Braxton, F/C, Liberty
6.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.1 APG




Western Conference

Conference Finals

Conference Semi Finals

Eastern Conference

Conference Finals

Conference Semi Finals