The New York Liberty, who finished with a record of 18-16, narrowly missed out on winning the Eastern Conference in 2004, losing to the Connecticut Sun on a tie-breaker. The Liberty had one of the most up-and-down seasons of any WNBA team, releasing coach Richie Adubato midseason and putting together both a six-game winning streak and a six-game losing streak in the middle of the summer. Meanwhile, the Shock had one of the most inconsistent seasons to date, finishing at .500, and winning on the last day of the regular season to clinch a playoff berth. However, now that the defending champions are in the postseason, the records are wiped clean and the a new season begins.

2004 Regular Season: New York Liberty 2 - Detroit Shock 2
Some fast facts about the Liberty-Shock first-round matchup:

Baranova
The previous two Eastern Conference champions, the Liberty lost to the Sparks in the 2002 Finals while the Shock defeated the Sparks to win the 2003 WNBA Championship.
The Shock will be forced to go the rest of the season without All-Star forward Swin Cash, who has a left knee injury.
In the first game between these two teams in May, the Liberty held all but one of the Shock players, Cheryl Ford, to single-digit points.
New York's Elena Baranova was the leading scoere for the Liberty in the four games against Detroit this season, averaging 14.0 ppg. Guard Becky Hammon also chipped in with 13.8 ppg.


Cash

May 26, 2004: Liberty 64, Shock 52 | Box score

Liberty leaders: Elena Baranova (11 pts., 9 reb.), Becky Hammon (12 pts., 3 asst.)
Shock leaders: Cheryl Ford (12 pts., 14 reb.)

July 24, 2004: Liberty 78, Shock 69 | Box score
Liberty leaders: Elena Baranova (21 pts., 8 reb.), Becky Hammon (17 pts., 6 reb.)
Shock leaders: Ruth Riley (18 pts., 13 reb.), Swin Cash (21 pts., 7 reb.)

July 30, 2004: Shock 88, Liberty 79 | Box score
Liberty leaders: Elena Baranova (12 pts., 6reb.), Becky Hammon (12 pts., 4 asst.)
Shock leaders: Cheryl Ford (19 pts., 9 reb.), Swin Cash (15 pts., 7 asst.)

Sept. 14, 2004: Shock 82, Liberty 71 (OT) | Box score
Liberty leaders: Elena Baranova (12 pts., 10 reb.), Becky Hammon (14 pts., 8 asst.)
Shock leaders: Cheryl Ford (20 pts., 10 reb.), Deanna Nolan (14 pts., 8 asst.)