Heading into the 2015 WNBA Playoffs presented by Boost Mobile, the title is as up for grabs as ever. Each of the eight contenders can state their case for why they will take home the trophy come October. With that in mind, WNBA.com is profiling all eight one-by-one as the Sept. 17 tip-off approaches.
The New York Liberty have surged to the top of the Eastern Conference in head coach Bill Laimbeer’s third season and secured a franchise-best record with their win over the Connecticut Sun on Sept. 9.
Now, they’re set to take on the Washington Mystics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals as they embark on the final stage of their journey to bring home the WNBA title.
The Liberty are on a mission, and they have been all season long – a mission to bring a winning culture of basketball back to New York City. And a mission to reach the finals for the first time since 2002.
Here are three reasons why the New York Liberty will win the WNBA Championship.
The have a strong defensive identity.
As the saying goes, defense wins championships. And if there’s anything that has characterized Laimbeer’s 2015 Liberty squad, it’s their defense.
The Liberty currently – and have for much of the season – boast the league’s best defensive rating at 93.3. They’re solid defensively throughout the entire rotation and are almost always in the right spot.
Oh, and they’re also allowing the fewest points per game in the WNBA at 70.2.
The 2012 WNBA MVP has put together a season similar to the one that she posted just a few short years ago with the Connecticut Sun. Her play has, without a doubt, been the key to New York’s success. She leads the WNBA in both two-point field goals attempted and two-point field goals made.
Charles, who has earned a reputation for her brilliant post play, has drained mid-range jumpers with more regularity, which only helps space the floor and open up driving lanes for players like Tanisha Wright and Epiphanny Prince.
Make no mistake about it: As Tina Charles goes, so will the Liberty go in the playoffs.
Combined playoff experience.
The 2015 version of the Liberty featured a ton of fresh faces, but that doesn’t mean they’re unfamiliar with the grind of the postseason. Swin Cash was a part of the Detroit Shock team that won its first championship. Plenty of other payers on the roster have played their fair share of postseason minutes.
From top to bottom the Liberty have 134 games of playoff experience, which is sure to come in handy as the team goes through its preparations for its opening game against the Washington Mystics.
But it isn’t just the veterans who have championship-environment experience. Rookie Kiah Stokes was a part of a Connecticut program that won three-straight NCAA championships. Her experiences as a part of Geno Auriemma’s program will assuredly come in handy as they Liberty work toward their ultimate goal of bringing home the WNBA title.