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New York Liberty Beat Washington Mystics Behind a Fiery Sabrina Ionescu

Aug 15, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu warms up against the Las Vegas Aces at Michelob Ultra Arena. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday night, the New York Liberty won Game 1 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff matchup against the Washington Mystics. Sabrina Ionescu was red-hot. She scored a playoff career-high 29 points to go with a franchise postseason record of seven three-pointers. The Liberty’s 90-75 win is the first in a best-of-three series. With many outstanding contributions, New York is poised to continue their impressive run.

New York Liberty Beat Washington Mystics Behind a Fiery Sabrina Ionescu

Sabrina Ionescu’s Confidence and Play Pushes the Liberty Forward

In a pre-game press conference, Ionescu was asked about the depressing state of New York sports. She leaned on the exceptional play of the Liberty to address fans’ doubts.

“We’re gonna let our work do the talking, and we’ll be able to shut up those people on Twitter that have anything to say about what’s been going on with New York sports. As far as I’m concerned, we’ve been playing the best basketball that’s been played in New York City for a very long time.”

Ionescu’s confidence is warranted. To illustrate, The Liberty finished the season with the second-best record in the WNBA. Players and executives on the team have started accumulating some of basketball’s most prestigious awards. For example, Breanna Stewart earned WNBA AP Player of the Year and All-AP First Team honors. Ionescu was selected for the All-AP Second Team. In addition, Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb won WNBA Executive of the Year.

The Liberty’s win against the Mystics helped confirm their status as an elite playoff contender. Ionescu held nothing back in her historic performance, and neither did her teammates.

Betnijah Laney and Jonquel Jones Show the New York Liberty’s Scary Depth

Jonquel Jones and Betnijah Laney were the Liberty’s second and third-leading scorers behind Ionescu. They scored 20 and 19 points, respectively. Stewart focused on filling the stat sheet in other areas. She only scored 10 points but had eight rebounds, four assists, and three blocks. Thus, Laney and Jones’ scoring performances were important and highlighted the Liberty’s tremendous depth. Another key contributor was Courtney Vandersloot, who scored seven points, dished six assists and grabbed six rebounds. Unsurprisingly, the Liberty relied on an eight-woman rotation, as teams tend to condense their depth to rely on their stars more in the playoffs. Therefore, it is unlikely that players like Han Xu will make much of an appearance. Nevertheless, New York should have plenty of role players to carry the load.

Notable Washington Mystics Performers and Game 2 Preview

Myisha Hines-Allen performed strongly Friday night. She had 21 points to go with eight rebounds. Unfortunately, the Mystics missed the services of Shakira Austin due to injury. Austin averaged 10 points and 7.0 rebounds during the regular season. Additionally, the Mystics need All-Star Elena Delle Donne to contribute more to compete with the Liberty. She had five rebounds and six assists but only 11 points. The Mystics must win Game 2 to have a chance to advance to the second round.

Game 2 should see Stewart nearly double her scoring total from Game 1. Regardless, if Ionescu and the other Liberty starters play like they did Friday, they should have no problems beating the Mystics and advancing to the second round. Game 2 tips off Tuesday, September 19th at 6 p.m. EST at the Barclay’s Center and will be broadcast on ESPN.


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