New York Liberty vs. Houston Comets
The Liberty's season will be decided in the next week, and we will find out whether they are a good team in the midst of a horrible spell, or just a bad team that had a good run at the beginning of the season.
Houston is playing host to us as we zoom into Texas for a match-up that will have ramifications in the East and West.
Houston is 3.5 games out of fourth place, but Seattle (in 4th) isn't anywhere near consistent and Houston could potentially pull a massive upset if they go strong in their last six games.
It says a lot for the Comets' character and talent that they are still in the playoff hunt despite starting off the season 0-10. Tina Thompson, still a master of the craft after all these years, leads a team that is much stronger on offense than defense, but attempts to keep both in check.
Tamecka Dixon and Michelle Snow are strong components of that machine as well, creating a trio of strength that is carrying much of the rest of the Comets. Not to say that Houston is weak...
Our last meeting with Houston did not go over so well. The Liberty seemed poised to bury the Comets at several moments, but the Comets fought back and put the team away in the final minutes, 80-74. Kraayeveld had 31 points that night, but the Houston D kept all other Libs below the double-digit point line.
Patty has been playing the bench a bit more since then, and it's helped. We took a game from Minnesota and looked strong in several of our losses, but we're still not closing the door. The Liberty have led in the 4th quarter in five of our last six games. Good teams win those games, while bad teams...
McCarville has exploded on the scene (since starting in mid-June, she has only scored less than ten points in four games) and will need to continue to roll. Kraayeveld, capable of feats that I once thought impossible for humankind...
...is now on-again/off-again. Christon has been faltering a bit as well, not consistently scoring around her average since mid-July. We just need More.
The Liberty need to win this game. A victory here and a loss by the Mystics puts us in a tie for 4th. Losing a game and dropping back would be disastrous...
There are only seven games left in the regular season. I keep saying that this game is a "must win" but in truth, they are. Had we won just two games (quite possible) in our seven game slump, we would be 13-14 right now, which isn't great, but would be a full game ahead of the Mystics and in sole possession of 4th place.
This is it, ladies. We can't hope to compete in the pressure of the off-season if we can't win here. Take it strong, take it fast, and rip the Comets a new one.
KEYS TO A NEW YORK VICTORY
- Contain Thompson. Easily the best player on the Comets, Thompson is both a leader and a killer shot. While the Comets have grown into a team that doesn't rely on her, Thompson is still a major part of the puzzle.
- Use the body. Houston is hideously outrebounded by their opponents. The ladies need to get underneath and go for it.
- More from Moore. Not just Moore, but from every player.
- Remember the basics. Ball, basket, line. The court is the same size everywhere, and just because the ladies aren't at MSG doesn't mean that their 20% worse.
AROUND THE LEAGUE...
Washington @ San Antonio
Sacramento @ Connecticut
Seattle @ Minnesota
Indiana @ Chicago (ESPN2)
Phoenix @ Los Angeles
The Mystics have finally found themselves in a position that they need to hold, and tonight is going to show whether they are able to do so or not. Beard is a monster on the court, but Hammon has been keeping her Silver Stars strong, racking up strong wins and keeping them at the top of the West (with two games in hand against Phoenix, in the number two spot). They have locked up a playoff spot now (their first since playing in Utah), but don't let that fool you; they still want home-court advantage.
So, which will it be? The team determined to stay at the top? Or the team fighting for it's life? I think there's just too much talent on the Silver Stars for them to drop this game. Silver Stars by 7.
The Monarchs will lock up a playoff spot with a win tonight against the surging Sun. Connecticut is not going to make it easy for them, as they have gone 10-1 in their last 11 games and can also secure post-season play with a win (and with Liberty and Sky losses).
The numbers say a lot about both of these teams; the Sun have four players averaging 12 points or more, while Sacramento has only one. The Monarchs, meanwhile, have nine players averaging over five points a night. Connecticut? Only six. How will these two teams systems mesh?
Sun by 6.
Minnesota is almost comically hapless, with their team near punchline-levels of ineptitude without Seimone Augustus (averaging over 22 points a game). The Storm, on the other hand, are laughably inconsistent, and despite having one of the most potent starting lineups of the WNBA, can't seem to keep a streak going for longer than a couple of games. While Minnesota is damn near unsightly at home (4-10), the Storm are just as bad on the road (5-10). There have been two meetings thusfar this season (each team won on their own court), but even if Seattle implodes, this game will not mean much in the great scheme of things. I'm tempted to go with the Lynx because of that, but gut instinct is pushing me away. Storm by 5.
ESPN2's game will be a highlight between the Sky, a sub-mediocre team with lofty aspirations and playoff desires, and the free-falling Fever, who have lost seven of nine...
...but backed into the playoffs, thanks to the breadth of distance between them and the bottom of the conference. I can't like them now, not with how they've played since losing Catchings, and with the Sky at home (at 5-9, barely praise). The Sky are itching to get into the post-season, as their owner must be, too. Expect the Sky to fight for it tonight. Sky by 4.
So, apparently Phoenix has not won in Los Angeles since 2005 and only won once in their last five meetings. However, these are completely different teams than those from which these numbers come. Phoenix has exploded, as its offense finally overcame the shackles imposed by their defense, while the then-"eh" Sparks have transformed into a pile of Donkey Poop.
The Sparks have lost 12 of their last 14 games and spiralled out of playoff contention. It is almost assured that they will finish with their worst record in franchise history and will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1998 (and this, the year after they finished atop the West). Despite history, I don't see any reason to think that the Sparks will somehow reignite tonight. Mercury by 9.
Nickname up in the afternoon. Sorry for the lateness. Insanely busy. Insanely insanely busy. Until then?
See ya, Space Cowboy...