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Undefeated Champs loom in the Garden

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In a matchup that could have been last season's Finals, the New York Liberty look to hand the Minnesota Lynx their first loss of the season. If the Liberty can bolster their shooting game, on top of their already impressive defense, they can stand a real chance against the reigning champions.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Just eight months ago, the New York Liberty were one game away from facing the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA Finals.

After falling to the Indiana Fever in a decisive game three, the team that went into the playoffs with the league's best record was in for a long offseason of "what-ifs."

"It crosses all our minds," said Liberty Head Coach Bill Laimbeer. "We had a substantial lead and then we ran out of gas. We were looking forward to getting to the Finals."

A few months later, the Liberty (2-2) have a chance to play the opponent that "would have been..." the Minnesota Lynx (5-0).

Last season, New York put the now reigning champs in the dust, beating Minnesota in both their meetings. The game in Minneapolis ended in just a four-point differential, whereas the matchup in Madison Square Garden resulted in an 81-68 Liberty blowout.

"It's always overcoming playing the energy of the team at the Garden," said Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve.

Reeve also made mention of the Liberty's dynamic weapon in Tina Charles. On the offensive side, Charles has posted at least 20 points in three of her four games this season and is coming off her hottest start so far putting up 29.

The Lynx have an offensive weapon of their own. Maya Moore is right behind Charles in points per game averaging 21.8 to Charles' 23.5. Her free throw percentage is an outstanding 85.2 percent.

Unlike Charles, Moore is coming off her worst offensive performance of the season with just nine points; however, she isn't the team's sole scorer.

The list goes deep for Minnesota with threats Seimone Augustus (18.1 PPG) and Lindsay Whalen (12.3 PPG). Nine-year veteran center Sylvia Fowles, has also had a significant impact on the Lynx, since being traded by the Chicago Sky two years ago, averaging about 15 points per game.

Even with the offensive powerhouse that has kept Minnesota undefeated, Reeve knows she is up against a top-notch defense.

"I think their staples are the same. They will defend really hard and protect the paint," said Reeve.

Laimbeer said his defense is bigger and stronger than last year. With players like Carolyn Swords and Amanda Zahui B, New York has a solid chance of defending Minnesota well down low. Kiah Stokes is also another year older, and Tanisha Wright has returned to the wing.

The Liberty are coming off back-to-back overtime losses at home and have just two games left of the homestand. Tuesday will be a matchup between one of the league's best offenses versus one of its best defenses.

"It's a clash of two worlds," Laimbeer said. "We're big, and they're going to guard us too."