New York Liberty vs. Los Angeles Sparks
Madison Square Garden
Grip 'em by the Nose and kick 'em in the ass!
Quoting from USA Today, Patty said "They're all must-win games... We can't depend on anybody else doing anything. We have to take care of our business." If that's the case, then don't play anybody who doesn't have their head in the game.
That starts today. No more putting this off. We've lost six straight games, the last four of which we could have easily handled if it hadn't been for some stupid mistakes and some lacksadaisacal attitudes late in the games. Tonight, we face off against the L.A. Sparks, and, aside from the Lynx, they're one of the best teams to start a streak against.
We beat L.A. the last time we played them, out in California on the 29th of June. The Sparks have won exactly one game since then (an 87-77 victory over Phoenix) while dropping nine. The Sparks seem almost destined to lose against they're opponents, either by huge margins (82-47 against Seattle) or close games where they can't...quite...get it (63-61 San Antonio).
That's not to say the team isn't dangerous. True, they only have one player averaging double-digit points (Taj McWilliams-Franklin), but they DO have seven players averaging more than seven points a game (the Liberty, by contrast, only have six, while the Fever and shock only have five apiece).
What this means is that, save for a superstar presence, the Sparks would be in the game every night, almost ready to crack a few skulls. They can't seem to get anything going, and they need that leader to push them over the edge.
The Liberty, on the other hand, aren't exactly the strongest opponents to be had. As giddy as I am about being able to get back on the horse tonight, I'm sure that the Sparks fans feel the exact same way about us.
Dutch is coming off a game in which she scored zero points in twenty-five minutes, while our major stars (Battle, Moore, Christon, Thorn) all had good offensive nights but had major lapses of reason on defense.
We're going to need a shake-up on the starting line-up and on the bench to keep this game from getting out of hand. Patty needs to realize that it's not her system, per se, that's not getting things done, but the people within it. As seen in previous games, many Libs can succeed individually within the system. They just have to take their time, make good shots, and get back on defense.
No more excuses. No more talk about "woulda, coulda, shoulda". If we can't beat a team that is 8-16, then we really have no business fighting for a playoff spot. If we can't pull it together tonight in front of a hometown crowd and break this disastrous cycle, we might as well play everybody on the bench for an equal amount of time on the court and let the "inexperience" that's costing us games, as Coyle argues, be thrown out the door.
"The execution was the difference tonight. They made their shots at the end and we had a couple of turnovers. It came down to execution. You thought whoever had the ball last was going to win and it came down to executing. They did that very well and we just turned it over at the end… It was a tough loss. We just didn't finish things." - Ashley Battle on the Liberty's loss to the Sun.
So, you know what that means tonight, right?
KEYS TO A NEW YORK VICTORY
- If someone isn't playing well, take them out. I don't care who the hell it is, she shouldn't be on the floor if she has two points in thirty minutes.
For a "real" preview of tonight's game, go here. It all starts tonight at 730. Get 'er done, ladies.
Chicago @ Connecticut
Washington @ Indiana
Detroit @ San Antonio
Phoenix @ Houston
Sacramento @ Seattle
Two divisional rivals duking it out for position within the playoff race... and us on the outside looking in. Connecticut's been on fire recently, but are looking for a loss, especially with the way they played against us the other day. Katie Douglas, while not injured, came down hard and was limited in her play the rest of the game. Chicago, on the other hand, has the ability to handle opponents much more skilled than themselves. They have five wins in their last six games coming from quality opponents (San Antonio and Detroit, for example) and are looking to gain a game on Connecticut and distance themselves from the Libs. Expect some desperation; if they lose - and Washington and/or New York wins - then there will be a three-way tie for fourth place.
Sky by 6.
There would have been a time when a game like the Mystics in Indiana would have been a no-brain win for the Fever. Not so much anymore. Six losses in a row and a complete 180 for what was once the premier defense in the East has resulted in Indiana losing pace behind Detroit and the Sun quickly gaining. Indiana can't lose forever, but Washington has improved greatly since their horrible start. They can hang with the big boys (witness their recent win against Seattle), and even though most of their wins have come against the sub-par, their stars in Alana Beard and Delisha Milton-Jones can definitely be more than a handful. Expect a hard-fought game. Mystics by 4.
East Coast versus West Coast. The top dogs duke it out in a brawl for it all that should have you all glued to your T.V.'s and arguing the merits of rappers from the Pacific and Eastern Time Zones.
Detroit, after faltering a bit in mid-season, has regained stride and is looking to secure their top-spot. The fight it tougher out west, where San Antonio has had to fight off a myriad of pretenders to the crown. Ford is out for Detroit, but they have a ton of other All-Stars to make up for her. Hammon is essentially in a two-woman contest for MVP (with Lauren Jackson) with strong support on defense. I'm going to give it to Detroit, though. They have a great home record (10-4), but it's on the road where they make children weep for their mothers (10-2). Shock by 5.
Phoenix has won four straight behind stellar play from Pondexter, Taylor, and Taurasi. Each is capable of being a superstar on their own team, but together, they form a gigantic behemoth of an offensive power.
Houston, after losing ten straight then winning five of their next seven, have faded again, going 3-5 in their last eight games. They still have the talent, but their defense has always been a bit suspect, and that just can't hold up against the Mercury. Mercs by 8.
Sacramento, once at the top of their conference, have slipped to third as their stellar defense could no longer hold up their impotent offense.
Seattle, meanwhile, despite having two of the best players in the league, hasn't yet found a rhythm to play in. They're at exactly .500, but thanks to a great group of fans, are 8-4 at home. Sacramento, while decent on the road, gives up a lot of points when they're pressed there. They did beat Seattle earlier in the season, but that was almost two months ago, when both teams were worlds apart. The Storm are a tough nut to crack on the road, and I don't think the Monarchs are the crackers to do it.
Storm by 7.
Lauren Jackson and Katie Douglas were named this week's Players of the Week for their respective conferences. Nope. Not much argument here.
That's pretty much it. Nickname up in the afternoon. We're running out of players to do nicknames of!
See ya, Space Cowboy...