The Liberty go for first championship

For just the fourth time since 2012, a New York sports team is in their respective final, competing for a trophy. The New York Liberty join the 2012 New York Giants, the 2015 New York Mets and the 2021 New York City FC as a team trying to bring a championship to New York City.

The Liberty are led by 2023 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) MVP Breanna Stewart, along with All-Stars Sabrina Ionescu, Jonquel Jones, Betnijah Laney and Courtney Vandersloot. The Liberty are, quite literally, a super team with the chance to have one of the most complete seasons in the history of sports.

The Aces are favored to win the series, but the Liberty certainly stand a chance due to their talent and their history against Las Vegas.

In addition to Stewart’s MVP, the Liberty set a franchise record with 32 wins this season, won the WNBA’s Commissioner’s Cup trophy, have the WNBA’s single-season three-point record holder in Ionescu and the league’s leader in assists-per-game in Vandersloot.

This Liberty team was put together in one of the most successful offseasons in franchise history. The team traded for Jones, signed Stewart and Vandersloot in free agency, all while keeping home-grown talents Ionescu and Laney on the roster. In a WNBA where super teams had yet to exist, the Liberty have set the tone for the future of the league.

Unfortunately for them, so have the Las Vegas Aces, New York’s opponent in the Finals. The Aces, similar to the Liberty, consist of five all-stars of their own, including two-time MVP A’ja Wilson. Similar to the Liberty, the Aces are coming off a historic season where they won a WNBA-record 33 games.

The WNBA Finals matchup between the two teams is set to be a historic matchup in the landscape of WNBA history, with 10 of the greatest players ever all on the court at the same time. 

The Aces are favored to win the series, but the Liberty certainly stand a chance due to their talent and their history against Las Vegas. The season series between the two teams was split, with the largest victory going to New York in a 38-point blowout. In addition to those games, the Liberty beat the Aces in the Commissioner’s Cup game in Las Vegas.

On the court, the two teams are about as talented and evenly matched as teams could be. Sandy Brondello, head coach of New York, and Becky Hammon, head coach of Las Vegas, are both former WNBA champions. Neither team will make much use of their benches in the series, although the depth advantage slightly slips in favor of New York, who have elite scorer Marine Johannes as their sixth-woman.

Game one, which took place on Sunday, went in favor of Las Vegas despite being a tightly contested game for the majority of minutes. If the Liberty are going to flip the series when the two teams come back to New York, they’re going to have to rely on Stewart being the player she was in the regular season.

Stewart won MVP due to her scoring ability, averaging a career high 23 points-per-game on 46% shooting. However, in the playoffs Stewart is only shooting 36 percent from the floor and is averaging 1.6 turnovers per game. The Liberty need Stewart to be the same player who set a WNBA record with three 40-point games this season.

Game three of the series will take place at Barclays Center on Sunday, where the Liberty will be facing a must-win situation in order to keep their championship dreams alive.


Featured photo courtesy of @LVAces, X