NEWARK, NJ- Allowing the NHL combatants, the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils, a literal and figurative 24 hour cooling off, the Prudential Center saw the 0-2 Liberty host the 1-0 Minnesota Lynx.
The court side analysis follows the jump.The first four minutes saw each team utilize 8 possessions. The score was knotted at 9 giving both a 129 offensive efficiency. Offensively the Lynx give Lindsay Whalen some nice high post screens. Whalen is a talent with the versatility to use the screen for penetration to the basket or drive and dish to the weak side. Having the likes of Maya Moore and Rebekkah Brunson available affords Whalen some viable options.
The first two possessions saw the Liberty settle for a (missed) fifteen foot high post jumper and a pass from the same location that landed a few feet from yours truly at the baseline press table. The Liberty did get some offense in transition after forcing a few turnovers.
Liberty are looking to get our more in transition. In half court they are utilizing Plenette Pierson at the high post and Kara Braxton down low. Minnesota has a few players, as the previously noted Moore, who can hit from the perimeter. The trusty shot chart though, tells us the Lynx are doing appreciable damage in the paint. Whether by penetration or second chance put backs.
Half: Minnesota 44 NY Liberty 33
Possessions: Minnesota 36 NY Liberty 39
Offensive Efficiency: Minnesota 122 NY Liberty 85
Teams usually do not maintain the gaudy OE numbers posted the first four minutes. The Lynx, to their credit, were able to. Halftime stat that stood out, Liberty was 2 of 2 from the line, Minnesota 6 of 10. Simply, the Liberty were relying too much on the perimeter and not getting the offensive opportunities allowing them to get to the line. Again, the shot chart does not lie.
Second half started with a continuation of the latter part of the first. Minnesota was operating efficiently, especially on offense. The Liberty struggled and when shots were available, they failed to capitalize.
A lot of the offense, especially after intermission, centered around Cappie Pondexter. Some of it by design because outside of a modest second quarter scoring spurt by Essence Carson, no one was really producing on the offensive end for New York.
Minnesota enjoyed the luxury of having several offensive threats. Not just Moore and Brunson but Seimone Agustus as well. The Lynx employed personnel capable of slashing to the basket while using good size to maintain effectiveness inside on both ends of the floor.
Quarter number four saw the Lynx maintain their lead and stretch it to a comfortable double digit total. One sequence with about three minutes left epitomized the Liberty's night. They missed an inside shot rebounded it four times only to come up dry on each attempt. Minnesota finally rebounded, came down the other end and scored. Yes, it was that kind of night.
Final: Minnesota 80 NY Liberty 62
Possessions: Minnesota 74 NY Liberty 78
Offensive Efficiency: Minnesota 108 NY Liberty 80
Seimone Augusts, Minn. 22 points
Maya Moore, Minn. 15
Cappie Pondexter, NY 15
Essence Carson, NY 13
Records: Minnesota 2-0, NY Liberty 0-3
"We are nowhere where we need to be. In the WNBA you have the best group of women's basketball players competing night in and night out. In order to compete you have to be at the top of your game. We just have to get back to work." NY Liberty coach John Whisenant.
"We got some good ball movement and did some good things when we got out and ran. Tonight Seimone (Augustus) played like an MVP for us." Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve
Back with more stat analysis and numbers tomorrow.....