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WNBA's best: Here's how the Liberty proved it

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In a matchup between the two best teams in the WNBA, here's how the Liberty proved they are the top team in all of the WNBA.

Photo by Ray Floriani

New York City, NY - The ticket to the playoffs is punched. Top of the West met the top of the East last night at Madison Square Garden. The Liberty emerged an 81-68 victor to improve to 19-8. The Lynx are now 19-10. The numbers of note:

Possessions: Minnesota 76, New York 77

Offensive efficiency: Minnesota 90, New York 105

The Four Factors:

eFG: Minnesota 39%, New York 54%

FT Rate: Minnesota 33%, New York 15%

OREB Pct: Minnesota 24%, New York 30%

TO Rate: Minnesota 11%, New York 18%

The analytics show it began with defense. Holding the Lynx to a 90 efficiency was predicated not on forcing turnovers. Rather it was disruptive lock down solid defense. Note the eFG percentage which included a 37% showing in ‘raw' field goal percentage. Numbers Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer and his team aspire to generate.

In a fan post on Swish Appeal, it was pointed out that getting off to a good start is vital. Not a situation assuring victory but important just the same. That post, of yours truly, noted the Liberty led 27-16 at the quarter showing a 129-80 advantage in offensive efficiency. The Lynx challenged several times but never drew even. Suffice to say that double-digit lead after one was just too much to overcome.

Maya Moore was scoreless after one-quarter, but the Minnesota standout finished with a game-high 25 points. "She's a great player," Laimbeer said of Moore. "We defended her, but she made some tough shots. She's going to score and get to the line quite a bit." Moore was 7 of 9 from the line for the Lynx, who showed an edge in that category.

Raw numbers saw the Liberty outrebound Minnesota 41-31. The offensive rebounding percentage also saw New York lead in that category. "Rebounding is something we have been working on," Liberty center Carolyn Swords said. "Boxing out when the shot goes up is something we are aware of and have improved on as the season progressed."

Kiah Stokes and Tina Charles shared game rebounding honors with 11 each. Sylvia Fowles, a physical inside presence for the Lynx, had a team-high 10 boards to complement her 18 points.

Epiphanny Prince led the Liberty with 22 points on 10 of 16 shooting from the floor. "Her value is outstanding," Laimbeer said of his standout guard. "You cannot underestimate her."  Prince also set the pace in efficiency, with the leaders as noted:

Efficiency

Prince, NY                             22

Charles, NY                          21

Moore, Minn.                         20

Fowles, Minn.                       19

In the end, this was a victory founded on a season wide Liberty staple, great defense." They (Minnesota) shoot very well," Laimbeer said," we defend very well. We did a great job cutting off their transition."