Updated: Oct 2
AP Photo/Jessica Hill
Can I get a “Go New York Go New York Go?!” It’s been a long time in New York sports since one of its own made it to the Final series of their respective sports whether you’re talking about the NBA with the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, the NFL with the New York Giants and New York Jets, the MLB in the New York Yankees or New York Mets, or even the NHL with the New York Rangers & New York Islanders.
The last New York team to reach the final round in their respective sport was the Rangers in 2014 when they lost in the Stanley Cup Finals in five games to the Los Angeles Kings.
Well, New York Fans… The drought is over! As the New York Liberty of the WNBA just punched their ticket to their first WNBA Finals since 2002 in an 87-84 victory over the Connecticut Sun, defeating them 3-1 in the series.
The Liberty had a great balanced attack offensively with there scoring with three players scoring over 20+ points from center Jonquel Jones (25 points), forward Betnijah Laney (21 points), and the reigning WNBA MVP, forward Breanna Stewart who finished with 27 points, nine rebounds, and an assist.
Jones also contributed with 15 rebounds and two assists, with Laney with seven boards and five assists as well. The Liberty distributed the ball gracefully as an offense, always seeming to make that extra pass that swung the defense off balance and found an open shooter's hand before burying the shot.
It was a back-and-forth game with both teams competing to the final buzzer. On the other side you had Sun center and MVP runner-up Alyssa Thomas record a triple-double (17-15-11), with other players such as DeWanna Bonner (12), Tiffany Hayes (15), Dijonai Carrington (14), and Tyasha Harris (10) all scoring in double figures in what was a great team effort from the Suns as well.
Liberty star guard Sabrina Ionescu might not have had the best scoring night, finishing with just nine points, but she did affect the game in other ways by finishing with seven assists and five rebounds.
Some of those assists include finding Jones off a textbook screen-and-roll at the (3:04) mark of the video below which would make any coach proud.
Or finding the MVP Stewart in the post with the perfect entry pass for the reigning MVP in Stewart at (5:25) for a beautiful post fadeaway here:
The Liberty trailed for the majority of the first half against the Suns but were able to keep their composure and showed their resiliency by coming back to answer for every Suns basket.
The Liberty led by as much as 11 in the third but got sloppy in the fourth which allowed the Suns to cut into the lead and make it a tight-knit ball game.
Overall, both teams played excellent team basketball with both playing their hearts out. It just so happens that the Liberty was just a tad better in this game with the help of Jones becoming the first Liberty player ever with a 25-point/15-rebound playoff performance.
She also now has the most double-doubles in Liberty playoff history with six. All coming during this postseason run.
Stewart showed why she was the MVP in the closest three-player race in WNBA history in Alyssa Thomas whom she just eliminated and A’Ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces who her Liberty will play in the Finals.
The Finals will be a clash between the two best teams of the WNBA this past season of their respective conferences with the Liberty atop the East (32-8), and Aces finishing atop the West (34-6).
It will also feature the last two league MVPs, Wilson (2022), and Stewart (2023).
Who will come out on top between the two powerhouses? Will Wilson try to show why she should’ve been named MVP over Stewart with a stout Finals performance? Or will Stewart continue to add to her prestigious resume of accomplishments with a third potential title and Finals MVP on the horizon to lead the Liberty to their first title in franchise history?
Get ready for the showdown.