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2 critical points for tonight's Eastern Conference Finals

The New York Liberty were finally able to ward off the pesky Washington Mystics and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. But now they face a difference challenge, the experienced Indiana Fever. The question looming over tonight's game, what will prevail: the Liberty's bench or the Fever's experience?

Chris Poss

In a game that came down to the final quarter, New York's bench play helped surged them past the Mystics 79-74, securing their spot in the Eastern Conference finals. Tina Charles finished with 22 points on 9-22 shooting, 12 rebounds, and four assists. Sugar Rodgers and Candice Wiggins combined for 32 points off the bench, an effort that provided the scoring edge for New York.

Washington took control at the beginning of the second quarter, but poor shot selection by the Mystics allowed the Liberty to take a 45-37 lead headed into the half.

Mike Thibault's squad was able to settle down and run their offense in the third quarter, which got them back in the game. Candice Wiggins hit back-to-back three's to tie the game up at 57-57 headed into the fourth quarter.

Ivory Latta knocked down a three-pointer that brought Washington within one, followed by a huge hook shot by Stefanie Dolson, giving them a 68-67 lead with 5:46 left in the game. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt sank an 18-footer that gave the Mystics a 72-69 edge with 2:57 left, but that would be the last lead for Washington.

With 20 seconds to go, Epiphanny Prince hit a jumper as the shot clock expired to put a 77-74 dagger in their opponent. New York takes this one 79-74, and will face the Indiana Fever in the Eastern Conference finals.

As we head into the Eastern Conference finals, here are some key takeaways:

DEEP BENCHES WIN GAMES: It may seem obvious, but it is true. The more players on your bench that have the ability to score, the more the opponent will have to worry about defensively. New York had two bench players in Sugar Rodgers, and Candice Wiggins combine for 32 points this game. If the Liberty can continue to bring sparks off the bench, they will put themselves in an excellent position to win the series against the Fever.

EXPERIENCE: The Fever have one of the most experienced veterans in Tamika Catchings. She will be retiring after the 2016 season, and wants nothing more than another WNBA championship. Not to mention, the forward knows how to win. That alone will be something worth keeping an eye on as Indiana takes on New York tomorrow.