If the New York Liberty are going to make a series of it against the defending WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces, now is the time to do it.
Down 2-0 in the best-of-five WNBA Finals and absolutely humiliated Wednesday night in a 104-76 loss, New York comes home on Sunday for a win-or-else Game 3.
“It’s about action now,” Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said. “No (bleeping) feelings anymore. We’re all disappointed, angry, embarrassed with how we played. Focus on what you can do. It’s actions, not emotions.”
New York was overwhelmed from the jump Wednesday night, allowing 38 first-quarter points, a WNBA Finals record. Las Vegas is averaging 101.5 points per game in the series against an opponent that was third in the league in defensive rating during the regular season.
The Liberty were more than the Aces’ match prior to the Finals, splitting four regular-season games and thumping them in Las Vegas two months ago to win the Commissioners’ Cup. Asked about adjustments, WNBA Most Valuable Player Breanna Stewart put it simply.
“The first place we look is in the mirror,” Stewart said.
Meanwhile, the only adjustment the Aces appear to need at this point is perhaps not to become too complacent. They have looked like a team focused on consecutive titles instead of the one that absorbed a 38-point defeat from New York in early August at Brooklyn.
The Aces are 7-0 in the playoffs and, aside from a narrow escape at Dallas in the clinching game of the teams’ semifinal series, none of the games were in doubt at the end. But Las Vegas coach Becky Hammon says playing in the Liberty’s arena presents a different dynamic.
“We’ve got thumped in their building twice,” Hammon said. “So we’re going to come with the appropriate respect, the appropriate focus and emotion for the moment.”
A’ja Wilson was dominant in Game 2 with 26 points and 15 rebounds, but she was hardly alone. Two other teammates scored at least 23 points.
Game 4, if necessary, is scheduled for Wednesday at Brooklyn.